Batteries in e-Scooters and e-Bikes Are Catching Fire

Johnny Wentzel
Courtesy of Giphy

Back in our day, scooters were simple modes of transport where the biggest danger was smashing an ankle trying to do a gnarly tailwhip. But with the rise in popularity of e-scooters and e-bikes, there’s much more than just a bruised shin at stake.

What’s happening: US federal and state officials are cracking down after a recent increase in fires caused by e-scooter and e-bike batteries. New York City alone has seen over 30 lithium-ion battery-caused fires in the last three months, prompting a response from state officials to introduce a bill to ban the sale of batteries that do not meet a minimum safety standard.

Why are battery fires so dangerous?

The primary danger with lithium-ion batteries is thermal runaway – an uncontrollable increase in temperature due to a short circuit, manufacturing defect, or damage to the battery – which causes the battery to continually heat up until it ignites or explodes.

  • To make matters worse, the lithium within the batteries reacts with water to create a flammable gas, thus causing the fire to spread faster and become more difficult to extinguish.

Zoom out: Lithium-ion batteries aren’t going anywhere, so it’s important that they are made safe and have a level of quality control that suits the potential hazards. The bills put forward to better regulate the sale of batteries should help the issue, with the recent ramp up in domestic battery production likely to contribute as well.