In many major cities in China, you can often see elderly people driving low-speed electric tricycles or four-wheelers on the road. These vehicles do not have number plates and are essentially illegal, but regulators have not strictly banned them. Now, Beijing is giving these vehicles an ultimatum.

Starting Jan. 1, 2024, illegal electric tricycles and four-wheelers will be banned from the roads and from parking in public places including roads, squares and parking lots, according to an announcement issued Monday by the Public Security Bureau's Public Security Traffic Administration in Beijing.

The announcement said the illegal electric tricycles and four-wheelers are three- and four-wheeled motor vehicles that are not manufactured under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) license, not listed in the motor vehicle product list, do not meet safety technical standards, and are powered by electricity for carrying passengers or cargo.

Beijing will prohibit local companies from producing and selling illegal electric tricycles and four-wheelers, according to the announcement.

For companies that illegally produce and sell such vehicles, market regulators will confiscate the illegal vehicles and impose penalties in accordance with the law, the announcement said.

Since the date of the announcement, no organization or individual shall purchase illegal electric tricycles or four-wheelers, the announcement said.

For illegal electric tricycles and four-wheelers previously purchased, Beijing has provided a transition period ending December 31, 2023.

During the transition period, these vehicles should comply with traffic regulations when on the road, and the public security authorities will investigate and deal with vehicles that violate the traffic regulations, the announcement said.

Electric vehicles used in specific areas including factory plants, tourist attractions and amusement parks, should in accordance with the special motor vehicle regulations in the field, according to the announcement.

These vehicles are also widely known as "老头乐" (Old Man's Joy) in China, and they often weave in and out of ordinary vehicles and drive illegally on bike paths, posing many safety hazards.

Without strict local license plate restrictions, Beijing's latest move should facilitate sales of the SAIC-GM Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, an alternative to the Old Man's Joy.

However, with electric license plates extremely difficult to obtain, consumers are generally not too happy to use this scarce resource for very low-end models either.

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Beijing bans illegal electric tricycles and four-wheelers, gives 2.5-year transition period-CnEVPost