E-Scooter & E-Bike Battery Fires

E-bikes, e-scooters, and hoverboards are often powered by lithium-ion batteries. Damaged batteries may slip into thermal runaway, an uncontrollable, self-heating state that can lead to fire. Learn how we are working to make e-mobility devices safer.
Man riding electric scooter in bike lane in large city

As the popularity of electric bikes and electric scooters rises, so does the risk of fires caused by the lithium-ion batteries powering them. Learn how UL Standards & Engagement is working with stakeholders to make these e-mobility devices safer.

Why are battery fires in e-bikes and e-scooters a safety concern? 

  • E-bikes, e-scooters, and hoverboards are commonly powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to leverage their high power-to-size ratio. Lithium-ion batteries are also used in other e-mobility devices like motorcycles, wheelchairs, golf carts, all-terrain vehicles, and ride-on floor care machines.
  • Electric bikes, scooters, and hoverboards are exposed to demanding conditions such as vibration, water exposure, or mechanical shock from a bump, drop, or fall during use. This can increase the risk of damage to the lithium-ion batteries powering these devices.
  • Damaged or malfunctioning lithium-ion batteries may slip into thermal runaway, an uncontrollable, self-heating state that can lead to smoke, fire, toxic off-gassing, or explosion.
  • Fires caused by lithium-ion batteries are faster and more aggressive than other fires.
  • Safer batteries are more expensive, and alternatives that are counterfeit or cut corners on safety are flooding the market.  
  • There is a lack of awareness among consumers about just how dangerous their e-mobility devices can be.

How can UL Standards reduce the risk of battery fires in e-bikes and e-scooters?

UL standards reduce the risk of battery fires in electric bikes and electric scooters by ensuring that products are designed and constructed according to rigorous safety requirements. When an e-bike, e-scooter, or hoverboard is certified to a UL standard, buyers are assured that the product’s batteries, chargers, electrical systems, and more, have been designed and tested to withstand conditions that the device may encounter during normal use. These conditions include high ambient temperatures, water exposure, and vibration. Certain tests even take abnormal use and foreseeable misuse into account, such as mechanical shock from a drop or fall, or overcharging due to a fault in the charging control circuitry.

Standards are written and published by UL Standards & Engagement in collaboration with expert stakeholders from a variety of interest categories, including industry and manufacturing, academia, government, retail, and consumers. Read more about our testing for e-bikes here.

How you can get involved

Safety standards require input from diverse stakeholders. Learn how you can get involved in our standards development process and apply to join a technical committee here.

Related Resources

Fast Facts

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%). (Source: UL Standards & Engagement)

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. (Source: UL Standards & Engagement)

The lack of awareness is translating to behaviors that increase fire risk. Nearly half of e-bike riders (49%) who charge at home blocking their home’s fire exits, a contributing factor in several cases where death occurred. (Source: UL Standards & Engagement)

Battery replacement practices introduce concerning safety variables. Nearly half of e-bike owners (48%) have replaced their old e-bike battery. Many have done so as a result of circumstances that threaten safety: 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. (Source: UL Standards & Engagement)

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