E-bike batteries have a nasty behavior of catching fireplace and killing individuals as they sleep. Not surprisingly, this makes some individuals nervous about proudly owning an e-bike, which is a nasty factor in case you are an advocate for extra battery-operated transportation selections, which we right here at CleanTechnica undoubtedly are.
The issue appears to be most acute in New York Metropolis, the place individuals within the gig financial system depend on e-bikes and different battery-powered units to make a dwelling. Usually, they’re utilized by multiple particular person, which implies they’re in nearly fixed use and are being charged much more typically than regular.
An e-bike typically has solely a rudimentary battery administration system (if it has any in any respect). A correct BMS retains monitor of the state of well being of the battery cells in a battery pack. It screens inside temperatures and shuts down charging if a possible fault is detected.
A lot of the work a BMS ought to do is dealt with by the charger that comes with an e-bike. Every is designed to work with the battery pack it got here with by supplying the right voltage and amperage wanted to recharge the battery. If the improper charger is plugged in, unhealthy issues can occur. If there are a number of individuals sharing the identical dwelling quarters and all of them have e-bikes from completely different producers, the probabilities of utilizing the improper charger will increase considerably.
Native Regulation 39 Targets E-Bike Fires
New York Metropolis is making an attempt to handle the e-bike fireplace state of affairs. Earlier this 12 months, its metropolis council handed Native Regulation 39, which makes it unlawful for anybody to promote battery-powered mobility units or their batteries to New York Metropolis residents that don’t meet sure security requirements.
The new legislation is kind of easy. It states, “This invoice would prohibit the sale, lease, or rental of powered mobility units, akin to e-bikes and electrical scooters, and storage batteries for these units, that fail to satisfy acknowledged security requirements. The primary violation of this legislation can be met with a warning, however subsequent violations would carry civil penalties of as much as $1,000 per violating machine.”
However what are “acknowledged security requirements?” Based on Streetsblog, that language means solely battery-powered mobility units and batteries which can be accredited by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) are thought-about to be in compliance with the New York Metropolis requirement. (Additionally see our in depth podcast above about this.)
However there’s a downside. Amazon, Walmart, and eBay have been ignoring the brand new legislation and promoting non-compliant e-bikes and substitute batteries on-line. Now StreetBlog says Amazon is partially complying by not promoting unapproved batteries any extra. Walmart and eBay have merely ignored Native Regulation 39 to this point. All three firms proceed providing each unlawful e-bikes and mopeds for as little as $500 in addition to uncertified batteries for as little as $219 to residents of New York’s 5 boroughs.
An E-Bike Stop & Desist Letter
Amazon’s resolution to cease promoting e-bike batteries that lack UL certification apparently happened after the NYC Division of Shopper and Employee Safety despatched a stop and desist letter to the corporate in October. The mammoth on-line advertising firm actually is aware of learn how to not promote banned gadgets to New Yorkers. It is not going to ship gadgets akin to toy weapons or bear repellent spray to any ZIP code throughout the metropolis limits. Why it’s nonetheless promoting uncertified e-bikes and mopeds is unclear.
Walmart and eBay proceed to promote these gadgets in addition to substitute batteries that aren’t UL licensed. It’s unknown if these firms have additionally obtained stop and desist letters. Since Native Regulation 39 went into impact, inspectors from the Shopper and Employee Safety workplace have been making common visits to bike retailers within the metropolis to determine unsafe merchandise on the market on the premises.
The letter to Amazon was prompted by Baruch Herzfeld, the founding father of PopWheels, a battery swapping service for supply riders that payments itself as “a various group of entrepreneurs, hustlers, nerds, bike individuals, and extra. What we share is a love of supply staff and immigrants and a ardour for e-bikes.” It says utilizing its battery swapping companies can save supply riders cash and assist hold them secure.
- Save Cash — Supply staff save $500/12 months or extra with PopWheels, with no upfront prices, upkeep charges, or pricey batteries and charging gear.
- Earn Extra — By no means finish a shift early as a result of your battery is sort of out of juice. With PopWheels, your subsequent full battery is at all times across the nook.
- Trip Safely — With PopWheels, you may have peace of thoughts. Our batteries are licensed and maintained in-house to make sure no hazard of fireplace or different dangers.
Herzfeld initially noticed the illicit gadgets on the market by Amazon and alerted Streetsblog. “We congratulate Amazon on its resolution to partially adjust to elements of Native Regulation 39, and we predict this can be a important step ahead in fireplace security in New York Metropolis,” he mentioned, including that a much bigger a part of the answer to the disaster of lethal fires sparked by the shoddy energy packs can be making certain that the supply staff have entry to secure storage and charging.
A invoice launched earlier this 12 months to create a citywide “purchase again” program that will enable supply staff to change defective or second-hand lithium-ion batteries for secure, licensed batteries handed the Metropolis Council in September however has but to be applied. A plan to open e-bike charging stations at choose places within the metropolis can be dealing with pushback.
New York Metropolis Housing Authority complexes are anticipated to start out getting e-bike chargers by the top of this 12 months, Adams introduced this previous summer time. “Nevertheless, till supply staff would not have to take care of or cost their very own batteries, NYC’s fireplace disaster is not going to go away,” mentioned Herzfeld.
E-bike batteries are a catastrophe ready to occur. In principle, nobody would purchase an uncertified e-bike, moped, or substitute battery any greater than they might purchase a automobile that failed to satisfy crash testing requirements.
There are not any correct numbers on e-bike imports, however the Gentle Electrical Car Affiliation estimates about 880,000 of them had been imported to the U.S. in 2021 — double the quantity imported in 2020, and 3 times the entire from 2019. There are estimated to be greater than 500,000 hoverboards whizzing round in America. Extra units means extra fires, specialists say, particularly for the reason that trade is comparatively new and unregulated, and there are a whole lot of completely different firms and merchandise in the marketplace.
The excellent news is that accountable firms like Rad Energy are beginning to solely promote merchandise that meet UL requirements. However there are too many others who’re promoting substandard merchandise powered by second-rate batteries. It appears secure to imagine these batteries come from second- or third-tier producers whose merchandise aren’t ok to be used in vehicles or power storage techniques.
One of the simplest ways to make the issue go away is just not by authorities regulation however by educated customers who refuse to purchase substandard merchandise simply to avoid wasting a couple of dollars. To paraphrase Nancy Reagan, simply say no to an e-bike or battery that doesn’t come from a good producer and doesn’t have the UL seal of approval. It’s that straightforward.
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