Potential buyers warned about risk of e-scooter and e-bike fires

9 Feb 2023
Picture: London Fire Brigade

Consumers and businesses have been warned about the fire risks posed by electric bikes and scooters that do not meet safety standards.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has issued the warning due to the “alarming” number of fires caused by faulty lithium-ion batteries in non-complaint machines. The CTSI says that the number of such fires has risen by 150 per cent over the last year.

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The CTSI has urged businesses that import and sell e-scooters, e-bikes and conversion kits to ensure that any product complies with product safety laws, and says that customers should only purchase machines that display a valid UKCA or CE mark from reputable retailers.
Christine Heemskerk, the CTSI’s Product Safety chief, said: “Don't buy online unless you're really certain where a product is coming from. You also need to be very sure that you're using the right charger for the right battery. There should be a charger supplied with the device you’ve purchased.”

How safe are electric bikes?

A significant number of the fires are understood to have been caused by regular bikes fitted with conversion kits.

Charlie Pugsley, the London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, said: “There is a significant risk posed by the e-bikes which have been converted and we are predominantly seeing fires in ones which have been purchased from online marketplaces and batteries which have been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.

“When these batteries and chargers fail, they do so with ferocity and because the fires develop so rapidly the situation can quickly become incredibly serious. These items are often stored in communal areas and corridors and can block people’s only means of escape.”

Alonso Ercilla, the Trading Standards chief for the London Borough of Islington, warned retailers that selling non-compliant machines “could cost you an absolute fortune”, adding: “We advise anyone selling these devices to get them tested to make sure they comply with product safety laws.”


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