• Research Reports

May 7, 2024

Raising the Risk: How Safety Oversights of E-Mobility Riders Threaten More Lithium-Ion Battery Fires

The e-mobility device landscape in the United States — comprised primarily of e-bikes and e-scooters — is undergoing a significant expansion fueled by advances in lithium-ion batteries and the allure of convenience. However, amid this rapid growth has come a troubling knowledge gap. Recent UL Standards & Engagement surveys reveal a surprising lack of understanding among e-bike and e-scooter riders about the main technology powering their devices. 

Read about these knowledge gaps in this report from UL Standards & Engagement, which provides an in-depth look at key trends across two separate online surveys of 2,200 U.S. adults on e-mobility safety, fielded in January and April 2024.

Key findings in the report include: 

  • E-mobility devices are critical to the work lives of urban residents. 54% of owners purchased e-bikes or e-scooters for work, and 72% of them have used it for delivery gigs in the past 12 months. Riders are mostly in urban areas (45%) and are more likely to be low (39%) or middle income (32%).   
  • There is little awareness of the power source or its risk. The majority of owners of these devices are unaware that their e-bike (53%) or e-scooter (54%) is powered by a lithium-ion battery. Not understanding the power source — and consequently the risks it carries — leads to riders having low concerns about the safety of their device. 
  • The lack of awareness is translating to behaviors that increase fire risk. The way users charge their e-bikes and e-scooters increases the hazard of overheating batteries and potential fire risk. Nearly half of e-bike riders (49%) who charge at home are blocking their home’s fire exits, a contributing factor in several cases where death occurred. More than half (53%) leave their e-bikes or e-scooters plugged in even after reaching full charge. Further, e-mobility users report routinely charging either overnight (41%) or unattended while away from home (26%).
  • Battery replacement practices introduce concerning safety variables. Nearly half of e-bike owners (48%) have replaced their old e-bike battery: 11% did so because their old battery caught on fire; 16% because the old battery was damaged from a crash or collision; 24% because old battery was overheating; and 28% because they noticed swelling or bulging on the old battery.