The Daily Telegraph

E-scooter batteries can explode, users warned as road trials start

- By Mike Wright

COMMUTERS are being warned that escooters could catch fire and explode due to risky batteries, as a safety charity urged owners to only buy replacemen­ts from reputable sellers.

Electrical Safety First (ESF) said escooters and e-bikes risked becoming a repeat of the hoverboard “fiasco”, which saw a spate of the gadgets catch fire due to faulty lithium batteries.

The warning comes as the Government launched the first trials of e-scooters in Middlesbro­ugh, in the Tees Valley, to test if they should be allowed on UK roads and cycle paths. The devices are currently illegal on public roads and pavements, but despite that it is estimated that 200,000 have already been bought in the UK.

E-bikes, which allow people to travel further with less effort due to batteryass­isted pedalling, are legal in the UK for over-14s to ride. A survey by ESF of more than 3,000 people found that one in seven adults said they intended to buy an e-scooter or e-bike in the next year.

The charity warned a sudden surge in popularity, especially in the case of escooters being legalised, could lead to people buying substandar­d replacemen­ts from online dealers when their original batteries wear out, which was one of the causes attributed to hoverboard fires. There have already been reports of faulty e-scooter batteries catching fire and exploding in places where the devices are widely used, such as China. In December, there was a report of an e-scooter catching fire at Dublin home. Martyn Allen, the ESF technical director, said: “Hoverboard­s were blighted by fires caused by substandar­d batteries and chargers that flooded the market when the products became popular. The same fiasco cannot be allowed to happen with electric scooters. As our lives become increasing­ly electric it’s more important than ever before consumers only purchase their e-scooter from a reputable retailer they know and trust. You simply can’t put a price on peace of mind.”

Under the Government Middesbrou­gh trial, people can only ride hired e-scooters from approved vendors. Riders must be over 16, have a driving licence and cannot ride the e-scooters at more than 15.5mph.

Rachel Maclean, the future of transport minister, told MPS earlier this month that the decision to legalise the devices was not a “done deal” and ministers were looking closely at safety performanc­e in the trials.

Asafety charity has warned that e-scooters could explode and burst into flames if owners buy sub-standard batteries for them. This clearly has its advantages. The great danger of e-scooters at the moment is that they are difficult for motorists to see on the roads, and quite impossible after dusk. A burst of flame from the machine may be in the nick of time to save the rider from being squashed flat. Of course if a distant e-scooter on a hillside burst into flame, it might be mistaken for the comet Neowise that has been cheering up the night sky recently. But at the moment it is illegal to ride one’s own e-scooter on the road, only rented ones under a government pilot. Once seven million expected users get their hands or feet on one, the urban night may be lit up like a modern-day hayfield full of glow-worms.

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