Call for ban on dangerous e-bike chargers after fires, UK
A London council has called on the government to ban the sale of substandard e-bike chargers. Hammersmith and Fulham councillor Frances Umeh said the chargers "should never have been available for sale". An investigation by consumer safety charity Electrical Safety First found that dangerous e-bike chargers were on sale via popular online market places. There have been 57 e-bike related fires in London so far this year, according to the London Fire Brigade (LFB).
This is an increase on the 47 fires of last year, 13 in 2020 and 10 in 2019.
In June, a large tower block fire was started by an e-bike battery malfunctioning as it charged.
Ms Umeh said, "We're calling on the government to ban the sale of these dangerous chargers. "They pose an increased risk of fire to consumers as well as their neighbours. These products should never have been available for sale to UK shoppers in the first place."
'Disaster waiting to happen'
A report by Electrical Safety First found 59 chargers that fell below necessary safety standards on Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Wish and AliExpress.
The investigation noted that many plugs failed to contain a fuse, creating serious risk of fire if there was a fault with the supply lead. Other defects included dimension issues, leaving users at greater risk of an electric shock.
BBC London Transport and Environment correspondent Tom Edwards
Stand on the corner of any London street and it won't be long before you see someone on something being propelled by electricity. E-bikes and e-scooters are seen by some as a clean, efficient, zero-emission form of transport in cities and their numbers seem to be increasing. But some e-bikes and their chargers are not up to scratch and do not meet UK standards.
If lithium-ion batteries are not charged properly with reputable kit, they can overheat.
London Underground has banned any e-scooters on the Tube after a huge fire.
And there have been a number of house fires caused by dodgy batteries and kit.
It's no surprise there are calls for more regulation of the sale of these unsafe chargers.
Martyn Allen, technical director of Electrical Safety First, said, "By the very nature of the batteries these dangerous charging devices are powering, it is a potential disaster waiting to happen. The process of charging e-bike batteries must be done with compatible and compliant chargers."
Allen called the government's lack of action a "scandal". "The lack of vital regulation needed to ensure online marketplaces are responsible for the safety of goods sold via their platforms is contributing significantly to dangerous products entering people's homes," he added. "The government must bring forward urgent laws to finally end this scandal."
All four online marketplaces removed or blocked the listings highlighted to them by the report.
London Fire Brigade fire investigation officer and station officer Matt Cullen urged Londoners only to buy batteries and chargers from reputable sources. "We know that lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to failure if incorrect chargers are used and this may be a contributing factor in some cases," he said. "We also know many of these incidents involve batteries which have been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards."
A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson said, "The government's top priority is to keep people safe. Goods sold in the UK, whether online or on the High Street, must meet some of the strictest safety laws in the world. Manufacturers must ensure all products supplied, including the batteries that power them, abide by product safety regulations before being placed on the market."
Amazon said they had removed the products while they investigate
Wish said action would be considered following a review and that it had reached out to merchants selling the chargers, requesting additional compliance documentation and higher resolution product imagery on listings.
AliExpress said it had removed non-compliant chargers.
eBay said such products were swiftly removed from sale.
Source: BBC News