Micromobility devices that include electric bikes and scooters have skyrocketed in popularity. However, with that prominence comes significant dangers for those who ride them.
The source of the fire comes from the lithium-ion batteries used to power them. Known for being small, lightweight, yet extremely powerful, the power sources are nothing new. They also charge devices that include computers, cell phones, cordless power tools, vapes, and hoverboards.
Early signs of trouble
As far back as 2006, prominent laptop makers asked millions of customers to return laptop batteries following a flaw discovered in the manufacturing process. Automobile manufacturers have also issued recalls following battery fires.
Their popularity, particularly in urban locations where parking and traffic present challenges, is due to their smaller size and lower costs when compared to gas-powered vehicles.
The flames are particularly intense, with fires destroying nearby buildings. Last year, New York City saw 200 fires from bikes, scooters, hoverboards, and other devices. According to the New York Fire Department, the batteries are third in city fire causes.
A history of problems
Towards the end of 2022, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission confirmed 200 incidents where devices started fires or overheated resulted in the deaths of 19 people. Many are referring to it as a crisis.
The significant density of the batteries brings good and bad news. Technological devices can keep power for a lengthy period of time without taking up too much space. However, that much energy can lead to serious and potentially fatal fires due to defects or contamination in manufacturing.
The “green” movement has had its ups and downs. Acceptance has been slow to come. The possibility of deadly dangers when using e-devices does not bode well for future innovations.