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Wednesday, June 7, 2023
HomeAustraliaExperts back rules to put out electric bike and electric scooter fires

Experts back rules to put out electric bike and electric scooter fires



Nearly 100 people were injured and more than 50 fires started by electric bikes, e-scooters, e-skateboards and hoverboards in less than three months, according to figures from an Australian research group.

EV FireSafe, which monitors the risks of electric vehicles, released the data on Tuesday after an electric bike explosion in New South Wales forced a man to jump from a second-story window to escape a fire that started in his garage.

And experts predicted that battery fires and light electric vehicle explosions would “get a lot worse” unless new regulations and training were introduced to regulate use and sale.

EV FireSafe chief executive Emma Sutcliffe said the group had verified 57 serious incidents caused by micromobility vehicles since January, injuring 97 people and causing eight deaths worldwide.

Thirteen incidents were verified in Australia in 2023, it said, in which 13 people were injured.

“We’ve had (a fire) every day in March, globally,” Ms Sutcliffe said.

While the group was established to advise on the risks of electric cars, Ms Sutcliffe said electric bikes and scooters had proven to be a far greater safety risk as their batteries were not subject to the same design rules. , they lacked important security features and were more prone to damage.

“Light-duty electric vehicles are coming to market very quickly, they are usually being shipped directly from countries like China, they are making very poor quality battery cells and they are combining that with very poor quality battery management. system,” he said.

“That means when that battery pack is charging or discharging, the battery management system can’t stabilize the pack from a thermal perspective.”

UNSW Sydney Associate Professor Matthew Priestley said these fires were particularly dangerous as they occurred suddenly, were difficult to extinguish and created toxic vapor.

Dr Priestley, who is designing a lithium-ion battery training course for dealers, said Australia urgently needed new rules governing the import, approval and use of batteries, as well as how they should be stored or recycled.

“As with any new technology, it’s always difficult for regulation to catch up, but there is a real need to catch up because we risk more accidents of this type happening,” he said.

“People don’t know what kind of charger they can use, for example, and they can go and buy a cheaper one or borrow someone else’s. No one really understands how dangerous that activity is.”

Electric bikes, scooters and skateboards should be charged outside of homes whenever possible and with an original charger, Dr. Priestley said.

Users should also ensure that they only charge the vehicles for as long as necessary, avoid leaving them plugged in overnight, and replace batteries if they are damaged or wet.

Ms Sutcliffe said more than 40 million light electric vehicles are expected to be sold globally by 2023, underscoring the need for swift action.

“It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” he said.

“There’s a huge problem looming and firefighters are unprepared because the technology has outpaced our knowledge, not just here in Australia.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission published an issue paper on the risks of lithium-ion batteries in December, with a report expected later this year.


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