A great alternative to traditional delivery options, zero emission powered light vehicles are:
Small, lightweight and energy efficient.
Completely electric with zero emissions.
What are zero emission powered light vehicles (zePLVs)?
You can use these small electric vehicles for commuting, shared-mobility, service use, food delivery, emergency services and cargo delivery. Best of all, they don’t produce harmful emissions from the exhaust and they’re much cheaper to run compared to traditional cars and vans.
Take our quiz to see how your business could benefit.
Different types of zePLVs
There are many different types of zePLVs, from electric scooters to micro cars. They’re split into seven groups known as L-categories, which are defined by power output and maximum weight.
These are most commonly electric mopeds or scooters used for delivery or commuting and are split into two categories:
L1e-A powered cycles have two, three or four wheels, a power output up to 1kW and pedals. Their power assist cuts off at 15.5 mph (25km/h). It’s recommended that rider wears a helmet.
L1e-B powered two wheelers (PTWs) have up to 4kW of power and a top speed of 28mph (45km/h). The rider must wear a helmet by law.
These are usually small delivery vehicles that have three wheels and one or two seats. They can hold a maximum weight of up to 270kg. Power is limited to 4kW, and the maximum speed is 28mph (45km/h).
Electric motorcycles are the most common zePLV. They are split into three categories (A1, A2 and A3) that are defined by power output. Riders must wear a helmet by law.
A1 – Low performance motorcycle or scooter up to 125cc and 11kW power.
A2 – Medium performance motorcycle or scooter up to 35kW power.
A3 – High performance motorcycle above 35kW power.
These are L3e electric motorcycles that are fitted with a sidecar.
These are usually small delivery vehicles that have three wheels and are similar to L2e vehicles, but they have power in excess of 4kW and top speeds exceeding 28mph (45km/h). They can have a maximum of five seats and a running mass of 1,000kg.
These micro cars (or quadricycles) have four wheels and no more than two seats, so they’re a good alternative for commuting or small cargo delivery. Their power is capped at 6kW, and they have a top speed of 28 mph (45km/h). Their running mass is limited to 425kg.
These micro cars and micro vans (or heavy quadricycles) have four wheels and an enclosed passenger area. Great for commuting and delivery. They have a maximum power of 15kW. They can have up to four seats or two seats plus a cargo area. Their top speed is limited to 56mph (90km/h).
ZePLVs have zero tail-pipe emissions compared to fossil fuel PLVs, cars and vans. They are lightweight which means that they use less energy than larger electric vehicles.
Not all powered light vehicles (PLVs) are zero emissions. For example, petrol mopeds, motorbikes and three-wheeled vehicles are classed as PLVs, but they all produce emissions as they have an internal combustion engine. ZePLVs use electric motors with no tailpipe emissions.
By law, you must wear a motorcycle helmet for L1e-B and L3e/L4e category vehicles. You will also need insurance. You must tax a zePLV like any other vehicle. Vehicle tax for zePLVs is currently free because they are electric.
No, eCargo bikes are pedal assisted, but zePLVs run on electric motors.
ZePLVs are much smaller and lighter than cars. They take up much less road space, are cheaper to run, and can be easily charged with a three-pin plug.
Currently, the market for zePLVs is small because it’s a relatively new. As the market matures, more options will become available.
zePLVs are cheap to charge and, because they’re very energy efficient, also travel further on each penny of charge than electric cars and vans.
You can see some charging cost comparisons in the table below.
Cost of charging/fueling
Electric motorbike (L3e)
Electric heavy quadricycle (L7e)
In calculating these costs, we assumed that the electric motorbike has a 3.5kWh battery, the quadricycle a 9kWh battery and the electric car a 70kWh battery, and we used electricity costs of 34p/kWh (accurate as of October 2022, energysavingtrust.org.uk/about-us/our-data). We assumed a 12-litre petrol fuel tank for the petrol motorbike and 55-litre tank for the petrol car, with a petrol pump cost of 150p/l (accurate as of January 2023, Weekly road fuel prices – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)). The scenario assumes 0 to 100% charging or refueling. It’s unlikely batteries or tanks would be drained to zero, so the prices should be used for comparative purposes only.
Find out more about zePLVs
How can using zePLVs can help decarbonise your transport?
For more information on how zePLVs can help to decarbonise transport in the UK, see the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) and Zemo Partnership’s PLV Action Plan.
PLV community news and resources
The PLV community is a hub for zePLV news and other useful resources. It connects zePLV users, manufacturers and policy makers.