Scaremongering instead of concretized requirements are in the foreground of Stiftung Warentest and ADAC. ExtraEnergy values the test `poor`. In terms of transparency Stiftung Warentest and ADAC must become better.
The German Automobile Association `ADAC` and the consumer organization ‘Stiftung Warentest’ classified 9 of 16 electric bikes `poor`. Only two of the tested pedelecs earned the test result `good`.
The test results are available in German language here:
ExtraEnergy, as a comsumers` association, welcomes high security requirements in terms of consumer protection. The association is committed to this for 21 years.
It is not understandable that the testing methodology of ADAC and Stiftung Warentest is not available for free. Neither to the public nor to the manufacturers. With regard to the relevance and scope of this test, the simultaneous publication of the test methodology would be very important. These days, it should be no problem to provide a document for free download in the internet.
Testing Methodology Influenced by Car Lobbyist ADAC?
ADAC`s first pedelec test was conducted in cooperation with ExtraEnergy in Tanna in December 2009. The results were adapted to customer wishes in the market, see:
>> How to measure Wishes - The QFD Method in the ExtraEnergy Test
But it seems that the ADAC leadership has recognized that the pedelec is a real competitor to cars. Is the pedelec no longer the nice exotic vehicle, not to be taken seriously? Meanwhile the ADAC reports highlight the dangers. If the ADAC would report as critical about cars, then they would have to publish an annual test on crash tests with cars against trees at 100 km / h. It would also be necessary to remind the car industry that there is still no car on the market, with which you can survive that test.
>> ADAC conducts Pedelec Test in Tanna
Customer wishes ignored - coaster brakes rated negatively
It is fundamentally important to check if manufacturers comply with legal standards. Nevertheless, not all standards make sense. Several test results criticize the use of ancient sidewall dynamos. These were only installed because it is required by the German legislation! So, manufacturers are criticized to obey the law.
Extra Energy is fundamentally against Dynamo obligation, but for freedom of choice of the energy source, and obligation to DRL function, front and rear. See:
>> Dream Legislation around Pedelecs
Hence, ExtraEnergy decided in 2012 to stop to control legal compliance but to deal exclusively with customer wish-fulfillment in the tests. Something Stiftung Warentest and ADAC have neglected in their test.
Also tendentious statements were made. An example is the criticism of existing coaster brakes, although they are a minimum requirement for some target groups whereas for other target groups, they are disturbing. It is fact that it has never been possible to produce a product that meets the needs of all target groups at the same time. Therefore, ExtraEnergy feels even more confirmed to leave the slavish review of legal compliance to institutions such as Stiftung Warentest, ADAC and to government regulators whose job this really is.
Do we need new and more stringent norms and laws?
If electric bike manufacturers would comply with the CE marking, there would not have been so many poorly rated pedelecs in the test. Instead, Stiftung Warentest could have saved the hassle of testing by immediately pointing out that vehicles without CE marking are illegal.
Various authorities are responsible for monitoring the CE conformity. Until now, these authorities largely ignored the pedelec. The test of Stiftung Warentest and ADAC will certainly accelerate the process to put pedelecs in the focus of the authorities. Currently, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia specifically examines the safety of pedelecs. As a result, already about 1,000 Pedelecs were recalled because an importer had attached a CE mark but could not show the necessary documentation of compliance.
The health and safety authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony now want to implement a "pedelec standard“ to prevent future deficiencies and provide more consumer safety. "This standard already exists," informes Hannes Neupert (President ExtraEnergy e.V.). "It's the GS mark for the pedelec as a whole and the BATSO mark for the battery."
The GS Mark for Pedelecs 25
The GS mark for Pedelecs exists since May 2010. The testing requirements are largely based on a proposal from velotech.de GmbH in cooperation with SLG (Testing and Certification GmbH) and Extra Energy e.V., adapted from very extensive investigations of the ExtraEnergy tests in 2009 and 2010.
The BATSO Certificate for Battery Safety
Since 2007, the private BATSO 01 safety standard is published. Since 2007, TÜV Rheinland is testing and certifying according to BATSO 01. Currently, only 16 battery packs have been tested and certified successfully according to the standard BATSO 01. A list can be found at www.BATSO.org.
BATSO certificate for batteries and GS mark for Pedelecs are voluntary. Yet there is no pedelec, which has been certified with the GS mark.
What Stiftung Warentest / ADAC test results mean to:
... me as a customer?
If mechanical hazards such as broken handlebars or faulty brakes were the test results of my pedelec, the dealer should be consulted for reviewing and if necessary for rectification.
... me as a dealer?
Withdraw all pedelecs without proper CE marking from sale and return them to the manufacturer if he is not willing to rectify a CE mark. Show goodwill to customers who own pedelecs which do not meet the minimum legal requirements according to Stiftung Warentest. Take their pedelec back or offer exchange of an equivalent vehicle. Return the vehicle to the manufacturer and claim financial loss to the manufacturer. For future orders, always describe CE conformity of the product as a purchase basis.
... me as a manufacturer?
Submit your products to independent institutes for CE conformity check, if not already done. Offer only products with CE marking. New product developments should have a BATSO certificate and the GS mark. So, expensive product recalls and loss of reputation due to negative test results will be very unlikely in the future. Participate actively when reasonable future standards are developed. Invest your profits in product quality, product safety and competent staff. This will enable you to offer competitive products also in the future.
What we need are precise and well-reasoned proposals how to verify product safety. The Stiftung Warentest, as taxpayer-funded organization, has to fulfill an important task. However, this positive effect can only develop if the proposals are transparently presented to the customer, the dealer and the manufacturer, if specific recommendations are given and if all groups are aware of their responsibilities.
Currently, the approximately 1 million pedelec 25 users in Germany are concerned that their pedelec could be an illegal interfering transmitter which could brake down when driving which might end up in hospital. Also dealers are worried to justify selling pedelecs.
Now we must ask ourselves whether 500,000 Pedelecs will be confiscated by the authorities because of their harmful electromagnetic interference?
Questions and more questions open up. But no answers. Not even for the download at Stiftung Warentest for 2.50 euros.
Copy: Hannes Neupert, Angela Budde
Translation: Angela Budde
Picture: Stiftung Warentest
5 June 2013
Updated: 7 June 2013