I just got my plates in Kunming, and talked with the traffic police, and my bike dealer (Niu) about the expected changes. Here are a few highlights:
- Any bike over 50kg or top speed over 25km/h needs to get plates by April.
- You can get free plates (the white ones) at any Kunming Traffic Police station. The green plates are fine as well.
- After April, these large bikes will be treated as motorcycles. You will need a license and insurance. As motorcycles, you most likely will not be allowed to register or drive them inside the 2nd Ring Road. Most dealers are planning to stop selling these bikes in the cities after April.
- Any bike that already has the plates will be fine for four more years (2023).
- Any bike on the road that doesn't get these plates by April will be subject to fines or confiscation.
Having seen past attempts to regulate ebikes fail, I'm not entirely sure they'll go through with enforcement when the time comes. I still think it's a good idea to get the plates, because if they do end up enforcing this, you'll have no recourse and no way to get the plates after April.
The last attempt to enforce a registration system (ever notice some older ebikes with small blue plates?) failed for several reasons. The registration process was poorly planned, and the registration window, which was overwhelmed, quickly stopped processing registrations, leaving the vast majority of ebikes unregistered.
This time, they're giving a long advance notice, and providing the plates for free, removing a lot of excuses for outrage if they actually do start cracking down on unregistered bikes.
Also, it's a response to national regulations, so compliance could affect things like the ongoing bid for "civilized city" status, giving them further incentive to follow through.