A bipartisan bill aimed at regulating e-bike battery manufacturing standards is currently under consideration in Congress. The bill comes in response to the alarming rise in battery-related incidents in New York City.
In the first three weeks of 2024 alone, the city witnessed nine fires and eight injuries tied to these batteries.
Since 2019, which marked the start of FDNY’s data collection, the number of injuries linked to battery fires has surged by a staggering 1,053%, rising from 13 cases in 2019 to 150 in 2023.
The issue escalated last year, with 18 fatalities reported due to battery fires.
The National Fire Protection Association reported that e-bike and e-scooter battery fires have been linked to issues such as faulty charging equipment, improper charging procedures, and overloaded electrical circuits.
Local measures, including prohibitions on refurbished lithium-ion batteries and restrictions on e-bike ownership in public housing, have been implemented to curb this trend.
However, safety experts insist that effective regulation must target the manufacturing process.
“We are nowhere near substantial compliance,” stated Will Wallace, Associate Director of Safety Policy at Consumer Reports, highlighting the prevalence of poorly constructed products in the market.
The pending bill in Congress, championed by New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand, along with Representative Ritchie Torres, seeks to empower the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) with authority to establish mandatory federal standards for e-bike batteries.
Torres, in a January interview with Bronx12, said, “I’m confident that we’re going to pass it on a bipartisan basis this year.”
The bill has also garnered unanimous support in the Republican-led House, an unusual occurrence in the current divided political landscape.
Despite the encouraging momentum, the journey towards effective regulation is not immediate.
The bill must clear the Senate, and even after potential approval, it would take at least a year for the new standards to impact the industry.
Ibrahim Jilani, Consumer Technology Director at UL Solutions, emphasized the urgency of addressing the broader issue of lithium-ion battery safety, suggesting a federal mandate for all such devices.
“This is a no-brainer to keep people safe from dangerous goods. And it’s been an ongoing epidemic for a decade,” Jilani stated.
In 2022, the U.S. e-bike market reached a valuation of $1.98 billion, with an anticipated annual growth rate of approximately 15.6% from 2023 to 2030, as reported by Grandview Research.
This growth can be primarily attributed to the rising adoption of electric bikes for daily commuting, an increasing environmental consciousness aimed at reducing carbon emissions, and increased support from the U.S. government.