Suffolk Trading Standards has warned that growing numbers of e-bikes and e-scooters are being seized or refused entry to the UK due to safety concerns. It says that in the past two years over 13,000 e-scooters and e-bikes have been seized at the Port of Felixstowe alone.
As well as the seizures, 9,000 e-scooters have also been refused entry by its Imports Surveillance team for failing to meet the requirements for marking, instructions, and essential safety documentation.
In a large proportion of cases, officers found that batteries and chargers for the vehicles posed a serious risk of fire or electric shock.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) has frequently warned that when e-bike and e-scooter batteries fail, they tend to do so with “ferocity” – a phenomenon clearly illustrated in CCTV footage it released earlier this week, in which a second-hand e-scooter charging in a kitchen can be seen bursting into flames.
The latest data shows that there have been 48 e-bike fires and 12 e-scooter fires in the capital in 2023. LFB has responded by launching the Charge Safe campaign which aims to help people safely use e-bikes and e-scooters and inform them of dangers relating to charging, storing and modifying the vehicles and their batteries.
LFB says that it is predominantly seeing fires caused by batteries and chargers sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.
Consumer safety charity Electrical Safety First has warned that dangerous e-bike and e-scooter chargers are freely available from online marketplaces.
Last year it found “highly dangerous” e-bike chargers for sale on Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Wish.com and AliExpress, identifying 59 online listings where chargers failed to meet the standards for UK plugs. Many lacked a fuse, meaning they had no means of cutting out in the event of a fault in the supply lead.
Graham Crisp, Head of Suffolk Trading Standards, said: “Stopping the sale of thousands of unsafe e-scooters is a fantastic achievement for our Imports Surveillance team and is a testament to their tireless work to intercept dangerous goods before these can enter the marketplace, protecting not just Suffolk residents but consumers across the country.
“Of course, people can keep themselves safe by only purchasing e-scooters from a reputable retailer, ensuring the vehicle comes with accompanying safety guidance and looking for the CE or UKCA mark.
“Whilst buying cheaper batteries or battery converter kits for e-scooters and e-bikes can be tempting for those looking to save money, they could end up paying the ultimate price.”
As a further measure, the Imports Surveillance team has produced guidance for importers, which is also available in simplified Chinese in recognition that most consignments entering the UK originate from China.
Trading Standards advises anyone who suspects they may have purchased a dangerous e-scooter or e-bike to immediately stop using it and contact Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133.