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OPSS takes enforcement action over dangerous e-bike battery

29 January 2024

THE OFFICE for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is taking enforcement action and warning consumers about a specific brand of e-bike battery – namely UPP – that has been linked to a number of fires across England.

Four online marketplaces including Amazon and eBay have been issued with Withdrawal Notices, which require them – in their roles as distributors of the product – to stop supplying the UPP battery.

Further, the OPSS has issued a Withdrawal Notice to 20 sellers directly and has also issued a Withdrawal Notice to the China-based manufacturer itself.  

Consumers are being advised not to use these batteries and, instead, contact the seller for further redress. Batteries can also be disposed of in local household recycling centres. That said, consumers should check first with their local centre if they accept this type of battery.

The OPSS has published a detailed product report highlighting the critical issues with the UPP battery. That document identifies poor construction quality, inadequate welding to connect the components, the absence of a heat sensor to prevent overheating and an insufficient battery management system that can actively avert thermal runaway. In consequence, the product fails to meet the requirements of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

Graham Russell, CEO of the OPSS, stated: “We consider these UPP batteries to be dangerous, and that’s precisely why we are taking this action to stop them being supplied. Consumers need to be aware of the risk of these batteries failing, not to mention the potential fatal consequences that can occur.”

Electric vehicle fires

The latest data for electric vehicle battery fires in the UK has recently been published by CE Safety, the Health and Safety-focused training provider, which conducted an independent study to understand the increasing issues around the use of lithium battery fires. 

Via a Freedom of Information request sent to Fire and Rescue Services, data was collected from fires that took place over the fiscal year 2022-2023. The study findings relate to vehicles containing lithium batteries, including cars, bicycles, scooters, buses, motor homes and hoverboards.

It emerges that the number of electric vehicle battery fires is on the rise across the UK. Fire and Rescue Services were called out to 390 electric vehicle fires. In the previous five years (from 2017-2021) there were 753 such episodes. The latest figures, then, highlight a 160% increase on average per year.

Electric cars occupy second place in the ‘league table’ for the most common vehicle involved in a battery fire. With 118 fires recorded in 2022-2023, cars were overtaken by electric bikes, which caused 160 fires.

*Read the CE Safety report in full online at www.cesafety.co.uk/news/electric-vehicle-fires-around-the-uk