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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #19-0088

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: TerraTrike

Individual Name: Lisa Permesang

Location State: MI Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 6, 2020

Ms. Lisa Permesang
4460 40th Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI  49512

Reference No. 19-0088

Dear Ms. Permesang:

This letter is in response to your April 22, 2019, letter, forwarded to this Office by email on July 1, 2019; your August 27 and 28, 2019, and September 19 and 25, 2019, emails that you provided to a member of my staff; and your November 15, 2019, email that you provided to Mr. Steve Hwang, Chemist, Sciences Branch, Sciences Engineering and Research Division, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). You request clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to hazardous materials classification. Specifically, you ask us to confirm the classifications for an electric-assist (e-assist) tricycle named "TerraTrike,®" manufactured by WizWheelz, Inc., that is powered by a battery classed as "UN3480, Lithium ion batteries, Class 9 (miscellaneous)," and an aftermarket e-assist kit designed to be installed on the tricycle.

You enclosed images of the battery installed in its holder and attached to the tricycle frame with a mounting bracket; the e-assist kit, which consists of the battery charger, the battery in its holder, an electric motor, and appropriate mounting equipment for attachment to the tricycle; and the e-assist kit surrounded in form-fitting foam placed in a fiberboard box labeled with a Class 9 label. You state the kit complies with § 173.185(b) of the HMR and the battery in its holder complies with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (Technical Instructions), Chapter 4, Packing Instruction 952. You expressed support for § 172.102(c)(1), Special Provision 134, which states that an electrically powered vehicle can be an example of a "mobility aid," and clarification letter Reference No. 08-0173 (dated 08/12/08), which states that an electric bicycle that complies with § 173.185 in conformance with § 173.220(d) must be described as "UN3171, Battery powered vehicle, Class 9."

Q1: You state WizWheelz, Inc., requests confirmation that it may classify its e-assist tricycle TerraTrike®, powered by a "UN3480" lithium ion battery, as "UN3171, Battery powered vehicle, Class 9," under the HMR.

A1: When the lithium battery is installed in the tricycle, the answer is yes. Special Provision 134 of § 172.102(c)(1) requires that a battery must be installed in a vehicle to use the UN3171 proper shipping description. Also, as you noted earlier, a vehicle powered by a lithium battery must satisfy the requirements of § 173.220(d), which states that the battery design type must successfully pass each test in the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria, as specified in § 173.185, unless approved by PHMSA's Associate Administrator of Hazardous Materials Safety.

Q2: You ask PHMSA to confirm whether "UN3481, Lithium ion battery contained in equipment, Class 9," or "UN3171, Battery powered vehicle, Class 9," would be the proper classification for the BOSCH Boost Kit, an aftermarket e-assist kit that is sold separately to be installed on the TerraTrike® tricycle.

A2: Based on the information you provided, the e-assist kit consists of a lithium ion battery wired to a motor that is secured to and covered by its holder at the time of shipping. Therefore, it is the opinion of this Office that this battery in this kit is most appropriately described as "UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment, 9." The HMR defines equipment as a "device or apparatus for which the lithium cells or batteries will provide electrical power for its operation." See § 173.185, introductory paragraph.

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.185(b), 172.102(c)(1), 173.185, 173.220(d)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
172.102 Special provisions
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries
173.220 Internal combustion engines, vehicles, machinery containing internal combustion engines, battery-powered equipment or machinery, fuel cell-powered equipment or machinery