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Energy Efficient Products
Electric motor image
Electric Motors and variable speed drives

Ecodesign requirements apply to these products

An electric motor is a device that converts electric energy into mechanical energy in the form of a rotation (torque and speed). A variable speed drive is an electronic device that can be used to adjust the rotation speed of an electric motor according to the needs of the application.

There are about 8 billion electric motors in use in the EU, consuming nearly 50% of the electricity EU produces.

The sector is very heterogeneous, with a considerable variety of technologies, applications and sizes, ranging from tiny motors, such as those driving cooling fans in computers, to huge motors in heavy industries.

Regulation 640/2009 applied to 3-phase AC induction motors with powers between 0.75 - 375 kW and input voltage < 1000 V. In 2020 this regarded 88 million installed motors that consumed 903 TWh/a of electricity.

Regulation 2019/1781 extends the scope (details below) to include 380 million motors, consuming 1326 TWh/a of electricity in 2020. This is 56% of the final electricity consumption in EU27 in 2020 of 205 mtoe = 2384 TWh (Eurostat Energy Balance, Apr. 2023).

Source: estimations from the Ecodesign Impact Accounting Overview Report 2023


The following table shows some examples of products in scope and out of scope  

In Scope Out of Scope
  • motors, including where integrated in other products.
  • motors designed to operate wholly immersed in a liquid;
  • motors completely integrated into a product (for example gear, pump, fan or compressor) of which the energy performance cannot be tested independently from the product;

Check the complete list in the Regulation

Ecodesign Requirements

All electric motors and variable speed drives (VSDs) in scope must meet the ecodesign requirements when placed on the EU market. This is mainly a responsibility for manufacturers and importers.

The Regulation on electric motors and variable speed drives (EU) 2019/1781 entered into application as of 1 July 2021, replacing the Regulation on ecodesign for electric motors (EC) 640/2009

The energy efficiency of an electric motor is calculated as the ratio of the mechanical output power to the electrical input power. The energy efficiency level is expressed in International Energy efficiency classes (IE), IE1 being the lower class and IE5 the highest. Under the current regulation, motors must reach the IE2, IE3 or IE4 efficiency level depending on their rated power and other characteristics. For instance, three-phase motors with a rated output between 0.75kW and equal to or below 1000kW must reach the IE3 level by July 2021. Motors between 75kW and 200kW must meet the IE4 level as of July 2023. The EU is the first place worldwide making the IE4 level mandatory for some categories of motors.

Some motors designed for specific conditions are excluded from these rules, for example those that are immersed in a liquid such as in sewage systems. 

The regulation also sets requirements the efficiency of variable speed drives. Variable speed drives have 2 levels of efficiency (IE1 and IE2) and the regulation requires all drives in scope to reach the IE2 level.

Both motors and drives are subject to information requirements, such as efficiency at different load points, in terms of speed and torque. This will help engineers to optimise the efficiency of entire systems.

Regulation (EU) 2019/1781 was amended in 2021 by the Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/341 that aims to clarify and improve some aspects of some of the ecodesign regulations adopted in 2019.

International Cooperation

Electric motors represent around 50% of the global electricity consumption. Promoting market uptake of efficient motors and drives is an important contribution to the fight against climate change. The EU supports the Super-Efficient Equipment and Appliances Deployment (SEAD) Initiative bringing together countries across the world to cooperate in promoting efficient appliances. SEAD currently focuses particularly on electric motors, refrigeration, cooling and lighting and has set a goal of doubling the efficiency of these products sold globally by 2030, an ambition recently welcomed by G7 ministers. The new EU regulatory requirements entering into effect on 1 July contributes to this goal. The EU is also a member of the International Energy Agency 4E Electric Motors Systems Annex, which aims at raising worldwide awareness of the efficiency potential of motor systems and provides guidance and tools to exploit the energy performance of new and existing motor systems worldwide.



A more efficient motor can generate savings ranging from a few euros to several tens of thousands euros over its lifetime, depending on its power and use pattern.

More efficient motors under the former regulation were expected to bring 46 TWh of annual energy savings in the EU by 2020. Taking into account the overall effect of the revised regulation, the annual savings will increase to 106 TWh by 2030, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of the Netherlands. This means that 40 million tons of CO2 emissions per year will be avoided and that the annual energy bill of EU households and industry will be reduced by approximately €20 billion by 2030.

Besides, increased usage of variable speed drives in relevant applications, such as a pump delivering a water flow that changes with time, can generate considerable savings at the application level. This is encouraged by the regulation by requiring manufacturers of both motors and drives to provide relevant energy efficiency data at different speed/torque points, helping engineers to optimise the efficiency of motor systems.

Facts & Figures

This graphic shows the estimated sales, stock, energy consumption (primary, electric or fuel), greenhouse gas emissions, consumer expenses and business revenues for years 2010 and 2030. The estimated values inside the graph bars are those from the EIA ECO-scenario, they include the effects of ecodesign and energy labelling measures.  

The difference with the business as usual (BAU) scenario without these estimated measures is shown next to the graph bar. These figures indicate the estimated savings obtained due to the measures.

Product: Electric Motors and Variable Speed Drives

Measures: Regulation (EU) 2019/1781

chart legend
Effect of Regulations

SALES (x1000 units)

Electric Motor Sales Chart

STOCK (x1000 units)

Electric Motor Stock Chart

Electricity (TWh/a)

Electric Motor Electricity Chart

(Mt CO2 eq/a)

Electric Motor GHG Emissions Chart

(bn €)

Electric Motor Consumer Expenses Chart

(bn €)

Electric Motor Revenues Chart

Source: estimations from the Ecodesign Impact Accounting Overview Report 2023

Expected Savings

Due to the previous motor regulation (640/2009), the average efficiency of 0.75-375 kW AC 3-phase motors increased from 77.5% in 2009 to 82.1% in 2016. In parallel the share of motors sold with VSD increased from 17% in 2009 to 30% in 2016. These trends were expected to continue, even without the new 2019 regulation. 

The 2019 regulation foresees an extension of the scope (see Electric Motors Regulation). For this extended scope, if no measures would have been taken in 2009, the electricity consumption of electric motors would have increased from 1192 TWh in 2010 to 1378 TWh in 2020 and 1449 TWh in 2030. Due to the revised regulation, this can be reduced by 52 TWh in 2020 and 106 TWh in 2030. The latter savings represent 4.5% of the total EU27 electricity consumption in 2020.

Electricity, Motors 3-Phase 0.75-375 KW in scope of (old) Regulation 640/2009

Electric motor electricity chart
Electric motor electricity legend

In 2030, considering 2.5 bn euros additional acquisition costs for higher efficiency motors and for VSDs, and €13.5 bn lower electricity costs, the net savings on total EU27 expenses for electric motors in scope of the revised regulation are €11 bn.

electric motor consumption

Source: estimations from the Ecodesign Impact Accounting Overview Report 2023

Note about double counting: a share of the electric motors covered by the Regulation are incorporated in products covered by other ecodesign Regulations (e.g. industrial fans). Therefore, a part of the energy consumption / savings sown here is also included in the figures of these other products, leading to a form of double counting. To remove the double-counting effect, the values shown here need to be multiplied by 0.55. Further explanations as well as figures without double counting are provided in the Ecodesign Impact Accounting Overview Report 2023.


Ongoing legislative work

Please check the ongoing initiatives on the Have your say portal.

Regulation (EC) 640/2009 of 22 July 2009 implementing Directive 2005/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to ecodesign requirements for electric motors (Text with EEA relevance).

Disclaimer: please pay attention to possible updates/changes as indicated in the Official Journal (green dot)