Questions and answers about fat tyre electric scooters

Are fat tyre electric scooters ‘mobility devices’?

Our view is that fat tyre e-scooters, which are often claimed to be ‘mobility devices,’ are not mobility devices.

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Why have you come to this view?

The Land Transport Act 1998 says a mobility device is a vehicle that:

  • is designed and constructed (not merely adapted) for use by people who require mobility assistance due to a physical or neurological impairment, and
  • is powered solely by a motor that has a maximum power output not exceeding 1500W, or
  • is a vehicle that the NZTA has declared under section 168A(1) of the Land Transport Act 1998 to be a mobility device.

Regarding bullet point three, the NZ Transport Agency has not declared these fat tyre e-scooters a mobility device.

To date we have not seen any evidence to support claims that these fat tyre e-scooters were designed for physically or neurologically impaired users. Similar fat tyre e-scooters are marketed overseas as a general use personal mobility or recreational vehicle, with marketing aimed at young, able-bodied users.

These e-scooters have twist-grip throttles and hand-pull brake levers, which are not generally considered features of a well-designed mobility device for use by mobility impaired users.

While distributors have claimed their e-scooters are ‘mobility devices,’ primarily because they have features that offer stability for the user, the features they refer to are not dissimilar to LA-Class mopeds (including electric mopeds) of similar size and construction. Additionally, while a vehicle may have features that make it possible for some mobility impaired people to use it, having these features does not make it a mobility device.

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Is this view legally binding?

We have informed NZ Police of our view, and enforcement is their responsibility. Ultimately it will be up to the Courts to determine the final status of the fat tyre e-scooters in New Zealand.

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If fat tyre e-scooters are not mobility devices, what are they?

In the Transport Agency’s view, these vehicles are more akin to LA-Class mopeds though further modifications would be required to comply with this classification. This view is based on their size and profile, their brakes and performance, their signalling equipment and the speeds they can reach.

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What can mobility-impaired owners of these vehicles do if they’ve purchased them as a mobility device?

We appreciate there may be some disappointed vehicle owners. Purchasers – and distributors – are encouraged to do their homework when considering new types of vehicles.

These vehicles, as LA-Class vehicles, are subject to the same vehicle registration, driver licence, vehicle standards and helmet requirements as mopeds are.

Any other remedies are a question of consumer law – owners should contact the supplier in the first instance and the Consumer Protection website has general information about resolving problems. link)

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I want to keep using my fat tyre e-scooter on New Zealand roads – how do I go about registering it?

Seek advice regarding modifications required to comply with vehicle standards for an LA-Class moped. This will lead to getting your fat tyre e-scooter certified for entry into the New Zealand fleet (often referred to as entry certification), registration of the vehicle and a warrant of fitness (WoF) inspection.

Classes of motorcycles and mopeds

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Can I still use my fat tyre e-scooter on the footpath?

No, just as LA-Class mopeds cannot use the footpath, neither can fat tyre e-scooters.

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Can I still use my fat tyre e-scooter on a shared path that is currently used by bikes and scooters as well as pedestrians?

No, just as LA-Class mopeds cannot use the footpath, neither can fat tyre e-scooters.

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If e-bikes and non-fat tyre e-scooters be used on shared paths, why can’t fat tyre e-scooters?

E-bikes and regular e-scooters can be used on shared paths as, unlike fat tyre e-scooters, these are not considered LA-Class mopeds. The power output of fat tyre e-scooters greatly exceeds that in the wheeled recreational device definition.

The Land Transport Act 1998 says a wheeled recreational device:

  • means a vehicle that is a wheeled conveyance (other than a cycle that has a wheel diameter exceeding 355 mm) and that is propelled by human power or gravity; and
  • includes a conveyance to which are attached 1 or more auxiliary propulsion motors that have a combined maximum power output not exceeding 300W.

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What help is available for people wanting to import similar vehicles?

We’ve issued some guidance on what to look for when importing a mobility device.

Guidance on importing a mobility device [PDF, 46 KB]

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