Light vehicle

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Historic light vehicle: Arola 20 from the former French manufacturer Arola SARL
Modern light vehicle: Ligier Nova

A light vehicle (official term light vehicle or light four-wheeled motor vehicle ; Lkfz for short ) is a mostly four-wheeled motorized vehicle that is significantly lighter and smaller than a classic automobile . The terms light mobile and small vehicle as well as moped car are also used.

As a result, it takes up less space in stationary and flowing traffic and in traffic jams. Up to three such vehicles fit on a car parking lot. The light vehicle closes the gap between motorcycles or quads and conventional passenger cars. Accordingly, light vehicles usually take one or two people and have wind and weather protection. They are also more economical than cars.


In most countries there are restrictions on curb weight or total weight and speed for light vehicles, for example according to the European framework directive for class L6e this is 425 kg curb weight and power restrictions of 4 kW or 6 kW depending on the subcategory. According to the German Vehicle Registration Ordinance, there is a restriction to 350 kg (empty weight) and 50 cm³ displacement (for positive-ignition engines) or 4 kW rated power (for other engines). In France there is another class, the “Quadricycle lourd à moteur” (four-wheeled vehicles with a heavy engine) with an empty weight of up to 450 or 600 kg depending on the type of use and other restrictions.

To start up the vehicle on public roads usually one's license plate number required. Above all, the less practical 45 km / h limit reduces the acceptance and spread of light vehicles, especially in Germany. Other light vehicles such as Twike , Sam or Renault Twizy are also classified as automobiles due to their higher top speed .

Situation in Germany

There is a special feature in Germany, where light vehicles are exempt from general inspection and registration, i.e. no vehicle tax has to be paid for keeping them. For light vehicles, an insurance license plate is sufficient instead of a vehicle license plate. Three-wheeled vehicles were also previously classified as light vehicles, for example the throttled 45 km / h versions of the CityEL . According to the revised Vehicle Admission Ordinance (FZV), these are among the small motorcycles with the same limitation in cubic capacity, engine power for electric vehicles and speed of 45 km / h. This makes them an inexpensive alternative, especially since there are low insurance costs compared to more powerful vehicles. The light vehicles are also a way of staying mobile for the elderly or the disabled.

History and current development

Today it is called a light vehicle: Messerschmitt cabin scooter

Light vehicles are not a new phenomenon, but to a certain extent a return to the " scooter mobiles " and small vehicles of the 1950s or the earlier cycle cars . The reason for its popularity at the time was the reasonably priced possibility for almost everyone to own a covered vehicle. In the 1970s and 1980s, with the increasing popularity of the automobile, these vehicles were largely displaced from the streetscape. Since their use was permitted for holders of older moped driving licenses due to a legal loophole in Germany , they did not disappear entirely.

The intention of today's developments is more to solve current traffic problems. The current low demand and market division clearly shows light vehicles as niche vehicles. The market segments of bicycles , motorcycles and cars are clearly divided and have their respective following, new hybrids between these vehicles will find it difficult to achieve the necessary distribution without funding from transport or environmental policy even if a lot of attention is received. One example of this was the low market success of the BMW C1 . The current low prevalence of velomobiles and electric cars is partly due to this. In other countries no suitable vehicle class is defined, e.g. B. in India, where the Bajaj Qute is only approved as a rickshaw for commercial use, but not as a car for private individuals. The manufacturer is fighting on the home market to define a new vehicle class "Quadricycle".

Vehicles already on offer are currently based largely on classic cars in terms of appearance and number of wheels.

The largest manufacturers are Aixam , Ligier , Microcar and Chatenet . In Europe, light vehicles are most common in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Austria and the Netherlands.

driving licence

Light vehicles

In many countries there are lower requirements for a driving license for light vehicles. In contrast to other small cars and micro cars, in some countries the car can be driven with a moped driving license (in the European Union with the driving license class AM ), for example in Austria with the registration of four-wheeled light vehicles.

Other light vehicles

Depending on the design and type of drive, other light vehicles do not require a driving license (e.g. Alleweder ) or even a class B driving license (e.g. Twike or Twizy).


One argument against light vehicles is their lower level of passive safety (cf. traffic safety ) compared to cars. Compared to two-wheelers, however, there is an increase in safety. In addition, the external safety towards other road users is higher than with a car.

It was feared that the number of young people participating in motorized road traffic would increase with multi-lane vehicles and that this would become noticeable in increasing numbers of accidents. In the meantime, a pilot project has been started in Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, in which young people are allowed to acquire an AM driving license at the age of 15 and are therefore entitled to drive a light vehicle. After the successful pilot project, the nationwide regulation is now up for debate.

In a study published in 2007 by the German Insurers Accident Research (UDV) on gasoline-powered vehicles, their safety is viewed with skepticism and questioned. In 2013, the UDV described light vehicles as dangerous. In contrast, a study published in 1993 of light electric vehicles compared to cars indicated a reduced safety risk in city traffic, due to a measurably quieter driving style.

As part of the large Next Generation Car project, DLR is researching light, safe bodies.


According to Directive 92/61 / EEC, a quad is a "motorcycle-like four-wheel vehicle in various vehicle and body types". This guideline limits these four-wheel motor vehicles to a maximum output of 15 kW and a maximum empty weight of 400 kg. It thus assigns a large proportion of quad vehicles to light vehicles. Vehicles with an output of over 15 kW are no longer covered by Directive 92/61 / EEC. They can therefore only be registered as a car or as an agricultural and forestry tractor.

Quads are usually very cross-country. The predecessor vehicles with spherical tires and two to eight wheels were mainly used in the military sector. One example is the German Kraka . Today, quads are mainly used as off-road recreational vehicles.

Light electric vehicle

A lightweight electric vehicle (LEM) is a battery-operated, four-wheeled vehicle in lightweight construction , which in terms of its design stands between an electric bike and an electric vehicle or electric car . Official designation: four-wheeled light vehicle with an empty weight of up to 350 kg (without batteries) with a maximum design speed of up to 45 km / h ( EC vehicle class : L6e). Three-wheeled vehicles are called (small) motorcycles.

These electric vehicles , ( English Neighborhood Electric Vehicle ) for which there is still no uniform, slang term in Germany, made up the largest proportion of multi-lane electric vehicles worldwide in 2010 with over 500,000 vehicles. This is also due to electric commercial vehicles of this class, the use of which reduces the pollution and traffic load in cities. In Germany, for example, manufacturers such as ARI Motors , Tropos or Goupil have launched environmentally friendly alternatives for delivery services, tradespeople and municipalities with all-electric light vehicles.

After electric vehicles were quite competitive in comparison to automobiles powered by combustion engines around 1900 , efforts to develop electric vehicles were only made again after the oil crisis . A fundamental problem with electric vehicles is the low energy content of the energy store ( accumulator ). In order to compensate for this deficiency and to achieve a satisfactory range, the energy consumption of an electric vehicle must be kept very low. This is achieved through consistent lightweight construction. Light electric vehicles are usually relatively small (1 to 1.2 m × 2 to 3 m), only have one to two seats, have a plastic body, narrow tires and preferably three wheels. In addition, the energy consumption of such vehicles is less than one fifth compared to conventional vehicles.

Many concepts of light electric vehicles never got beyond the experimental stage or small series ( Sam , Voltaire, Hotzenblitz ). Only the companies Kewet Buddy , Twike, Citycom with the CityEL and Lohmeyer light vehicles with the Alleweder-E were commercially successful . However, the technology could also be transferred to two-wheeled vehicles, which many manufacturers sell in larger numbers, but still much less than gasoline-powered vehicles. A special form is the Segway with two wheels arranged side by side.

In the early days, mostly lead-acid or nickel-cadmium batteries were used as traction batteries . Today, lithium-ion batteries , mostly lithium iron phosphate batteries, are also used. Typically, the energy content of the batteries is sufficient for operation at a maximum speed of one hour, so that the range of the light electric vehicles is a maximum of 50–80 km. The new battery developments enable significantly higher driving performance with a conversion despite the lower weight. A Hotzenblitz was equipped with lithium polymer batteries (LiPo) and is expected to have a range of around 350 km.

A special form of light electric vehicles are electrically powered vehicles for people with walking difficulties, which replace walking and cycling. These are marketed as electric vehicles.

Experimental vehicles and concept cars

With the most spectacular representatives and also from a technological point of view particularly interesting offshoots are the ones in English. so-called Tilting Three Wheelers (TTW), tilting three-wheeled vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz presented such a concept car in 1997, the F 300 Life-Jet . This is a trike that leans in curves. It runs on motorcycle tires and offers performance that is somewhere between a car and a motorcycle. The hard top is removable. Further experimental vehicles were created in the series, but not all of them fall into the category of light vehicles.

The Shell Group starts an eco-marathon every year , in which vehicles should travel as far as possible on one liter of petrol. The vehicles are all experimental vehicles that run on gasoline , hydrogen , solar energy or diesel fuel . The consumption is converted to one liter of petrol. The 2005 winner covered a distance of 3836 km with one liter. This corresponds to 0.00026 l / km or 0.026 l / 100 km. This was achieved with a hydrogen-powered vehicle from the Swiss ETH Zurich . The best diesel-powered vehicle came 11th overall and achieved 1807 km / l with a 4.2 hp engine. The vehicle was sent into the race by the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences.

HPV (Human powered vehicles) / Velomobile

Most radically, lightweight construction is being advanced in vehicles driven by muscle power (velomobiles). In addition to pure muscle power concepts, there are also combined drives with a supporting electric motor (e.g. Aerorider ). Twike is a special case: it was developed on the basis of a two-seat velomobile next to each other and is now a particularly light electric vehicle, a significant proportion of which is equipped with the optional muscle power pedal crank auxiliary drive, the entry of which increases the battery range somewhat .

Light vehicle manufacturer

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Matthias Kühn: Investigation of the safety risk of light vehicles (= accident research compact. No. 2). General Association of the German Insurance Industry , Accident Research of Insurers , Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-939163-20-6 ( PDF; 1.05 MB ).
  2. Light vehicles are dangerous - weight restrictions prevent more passive safety. Accident research by insurers, April 11, 2013, accessed on May 21, 2020.
  3. Ralf Risser et al .: The driving behavior when driving light vehicles. On behalf of the University of Zurich, University of Vienna, III. Light-mobile symposium Wildhaus of Winterthur Accident Research, February 1993.
  4. Lightweight body for future cars in the crash test. Retrieved November 4, 2019 .
  5. German Aerospace Center (DLR) is developing a new concept for small electric vehicles. In: August 29, 2018, accessed November 4, 2019 .
  6. ^ Electric Neighborhood Vehicles, Research Report Pike Research, 2011 ( Memento of March 7, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  7. ^ Shae Singer: Electric cars keep Aspen's air clean. Retrieved May 13, 2020 (American English).
  8. Hotzenblitz with a range of ~ 350 km . Kruspan Engineering website, accessed January 7, 2012.