Mr. Howard Seligman
Velosolex America, LLC
501 Kennedy Blvd.
North Bergen, NJ 07047
Dear Mr. Seligman:
This responds to your letter in which you ask whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the regulating authority for the Velosolex pedal assisted bicycle (the Velosolex). Based on your description of the product and the analysis presented below, the Velosolex would not be considered a motor vehicle. Therefore, it is subject to the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) rather than NHTSA.
By way of background, NHTSA regulates the manufacture, importation, and sale of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. The definition of motor vehicle is given is 49 USC 30102, and reads:
[M]otor vehicle means a vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways, but does not include a vehicle operated only on a rail line.
In your letter, you describe the Velosolex as driven primarily by muscular power, and indicate that the engine only supplements the primary driving force. You state that it has a small internal combustion engine, which does not activate until the bicycle reaches a speed of five miles per hour. Furthermore, you state that if the rider does not continue to pedal after the engine is running, the Velosolex will eventually stop, as the engine is not powerful enough to keep the Velosolex moving on its own.
Based on your description, including the fact that the engine is not powerful enough to keep the Velosolex moving on its own, it is our opinion that the primary motive force for the Velosolex is muscular power, not mechanical power within the meaning of the definition of motor vehicle. Therefore, the Velosolex is not a motor vehicle under 30102, and it is subject to the jurisdiction of CPSC rather than NHTSA. We note that your product could also be subject to the jurisdiction and regulations of other Federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency.
If you have any further questions relating to NHTSA, please contact Ari Scott of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke