Charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) has said that “sloppy manufacturers with little interest in safety are slipping through the net," after the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) issued withdrawal notices to four online marketplaces requiring them to stop selling a "dangerous" e-bike battery.
The U004 frame battery, manufactured by a company called UPP (Unit Pack Power) and sold via Amazon, AliBaba, eBay and Made in China, has been linked to a number of fires across England, said the OPSS.
Consumers are also being advised not to use the battery and to contact the seller for further redress.
Luke Osborne, deputy technical director of ESF, said: “We cannot fight e-bike battery fires solely through taking corrective action once dangerous batteries have been identified.
“Whilst we welcome the action by the Government, we need to prevent dangerous e-bike and e-scooter batteries entering homes in the first place, which is why we’re calling on the Government to introduce third party approval for all e-bikes, e-scooters and their batteries.”
The recommendation for third party approval was first published by ESF in the charity’s report into e-bike and e-scooter fires, titled Battery Breakdown, last year.
If introduced, it would mean e-bikes, e-scooters and their batteries would need to be approved by an independent approved body before being sold to consumers. At present, manufacturers can self-declare their batteries are safe.
Osborne added: “Poorly made batteries can kill and we are seeing the very real and tragic consequences of the current system of self-declaration allowing these products to enter people's homes, causing devastation when they catch fire.
“Sloppy manufacturers with little interest in safety are slipping through the net, putting the public at risk and giving good manufacturers in this space a bad name. We urge the Government to urgently adopt our proposals to tackle this problem before it gets worse."
The OPSS report into UPP’s e-bike battery says the product, “presents a serious risk of fire as it is poorly built with poor welding to connect the components. The product also did not have a heat sensor to prevent overheating, with the battery management system not sufficient to prevent the battery from entering thermal runaway.”
Last month the regulator issued an e-bike and e-scooter safety warning, with recommendations including only buying from a known seller, always following the manufacturer’s instructions, only using the manufacturer’s recommended battery or charger, always charging in a safe place, and never attempting to modify or tamper with a battery.
However, a petition on change.org is urging the OPSS to implement stricter regulations on e-bikes, e-scooters, and the batteries and chargers sold with them, as well as calling for stricter enforcement of quality control and standards.
ESF is also calling for a product standard to be introduced for conversion kits, as well as an interim ban on ‘universal chargers’ that come with many different connectors for battery outlets that increase the risk of overcharging the battery with the wrong voltage.
Last year, the charity published video footage demonstrating the dangers of e-bike and e-scooters owners using incompatible chargers to power their devices, showing a forced ‘overcharge’ which causes an e-bike battery to burst into flames.