Fatal Battery Fires Prompt UK Call for e-Bike and e-Scooter Regulation

Calls are growing for regulators to set safety standards for e-scooter and e-bike battery packs after a spate of fatal battery fires.

UK standards body, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), is joining the growing number of industry voices calling for urgent review of micro-mobility battery regulation. It cites the London Fire Brigade’s recent report that it has been called to handle fires caused by batteries on average once every two days so far in 2023, some of which have caused fatalities.

Lithium-ion batteries for e-scooters and e-bikes do not currently require third-party approval and rely instead on manufacturers self-declaring their compliance with safety standards. While most prestige brands do have safety standards in place, the lower-end models often use poorly manufactured batteries and pose a serious risk of fire, said the IMI.

Hayley Pells, policy manager for the IMI, said: “Allowing manufacturers to self-declare that they meet safety standards creates room for compromised safety. We are hearing reports of a rising number of fires caused by such batteries, which are said to be as severe as fires caused by fireworks, heavy machinery, or medical devices. There is a clear and urgent need for more stringent regulation to protect people and property. We all want accessible and safe transport solutions but we must not compromise safety.”

She highlighted New York City’s regulations demanding that e-bikes and their batteries must meet standards set by an expert third party. Pells added: “The IMI is actively talking to the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) regarding this issue, including potential regulation and subsequent inspection, repair and maintenance solutions. It’s also crucial that training for those who maintain and repair the vehicles is factored into any new regulation. The IMI is already in discussions with e-bike and e-scooter technician training and accreditation providers to ensure our members can broaden their skills and increase safety standards for all.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_  and Threads

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