E-bike batteries raise safety concerns amid rise in fires: Very hard to examine…

NYC pols push for e-bike battery regulation after string of deadly fires

Following a rash of deadly fires caused by faulty e-bike scooter batteries, a City Councilman plans to introduce a new bill prohibiting the sale of non-certified batteries.

On: fires

I-95 collapse caused by tanker truck that flipped while carrying 8,500 gallons of gas to Wawa

Democrat Oswald Feliz’s district is among several that have seen fires break out as a result of faulty e-bike batteries. Several fires have turned fatal — including an Aug. 1 blaze that trapped a 2-year-old and her mother inside their apartment.

E-bike related fires have killed nine people and injured 164 others in the last two years, according to FDNY — compared to zero deaths the previous two years.

To combat the issue, Feliz’s bill, which has yet to be introduced, would bar the sale of e-bikes that don’t have batteries certified by a “nationally recognized testing lab” and would also ban the sale of bikes with refurbished batteries. It comes as an alternative to a city proposal to ban the vehicles from being stored in public housing.

“The rise in e-bike fires is concerning and it’s an issue that will not go away on its own,” Feliz said. “It requires legislative action and it’s why I’m proud to introduce legislation that will help ensure batteries sold in NYC are safe and do not harm our hardworking families.”

Feliz is also working with Manhattan City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who has her own package of e-bike safety bills she plans to introduce.

Brewer’s bills would not only ban refurbished batteries, but also push delivery app companies to cover the costs of more legit — and more expensive — hardware, Streetsblog reported on Aug. 17.

The councilwoman has also been scouring her district for potential garages to host charging station for workers, she told The Post.

“I cant say that I have it all figured out. We don’t want anybody to get hurt — that’s the goal,” she said.

NYCHA has pushed to ban the vehicles entirely in response to the fires, but Feliz and Brewer seek a lighter touch. Both officials oppose the ban, which the Bronx rep called “misguided.”

“Banning them will probably not help improve fire safety because some of the batteries are safe for use, but will instead cause economic harm to hardworking residents who rely on e-bikes to earn a living and support their families,” Feliz said.

E-bike batteries raise safety concerns amid rise in fires: ‘Very hard to examine’

Fire or overheating incidents from these devices led to 19 fatalities in 2022.

Parents file lawsuit against e-bike manufacturer following daughter’s death The parents of 12-year-old Molly Steinsapir are demanding change after their daughter died in a traumatic e-bike accident last year. ABC News

The growing popularity of e-bikes in the United States in recent years has led to a rise in fires and other hazards, local and federal officials are warning.

At least 19 people died in the United States in 2022 because of fires or overheating incidents related to battery-powered products such as e-bikes, scooters and hoverboards, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said this week.

e-bike, batteries, raise, safety, concerns, rise

In New York City alone, fires caused by lithium-ion batteries powering these micro-mobility devices, also known as light electric vehicles (LEVs), have been responsible for at least 208 fires this year, resulting in 142 injuries and six deaths, a spokesperson for the New York Fire Department said.

In 2021, there were 104 fires caused by these batteries, 79 injuries and 4 deaths, according to city data. In 2020, there were 44 such fires, 23 injuries and zero deaths, the data shows.

Micro-mobility devices in 2022 caused four fires a week on average, based on data from the FDNY.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in a letter last week, urged over 2,000 manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of LEVs to sell products that use batteries built with standards set by Underwriters Laboratory, an industry safety organization, in order to reduce the risk of injuries and deaths.

Compliance with these standards should be demonstrated by certification from an accredited testing laboratory, the agency urged.

While many battery manufacturers like Bosch follow the standards, experts say the standards need to be industry-wide. The move to required UL standards in all these products would make them far safer overall, they say.

Some industry experts see the recent moves by the CPSC as evidence it lacks the necessary regulatory muscle to cause a change in the industry. This concern comes as more Americans are embracing LEVs, with many expected to purchase these around the holidays.

The CPSC has jurisdiction over these products. The U.S. Department of Transportation established in 2018 the Lithium Battery Working Safety Group which includes officials from CPSC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute for Standard and Technology. The group advises Congress on additional ways to mitigate fire hazards from these batteries and ways to establish uniform regulations for these batteries.

When asked about why they were not seeking to make UL certification mandatory, instead of just encouraging companies to adopt those standards, a CPSC spokesperson said it is time consuming to adopt mandatory rules, making voluntary standards a more common course of action to get important safety information to industry and consumers as quickly as possible.

New York problem

Fatiumata Dialo has been delivering food on his e-bike in New York for the last year. An immigrant from Guinea, he said his e-bike, for which he paid 1750, is the most expensive purchase he has made since arriving in the U.S.

Dialo cycles between several batteries for the bike over the course of the day. He charges his batteries overnight at his apartment, and he also pays a monthly fee to charge a battery during the day at a e-bike shop in Brooklyn.

Delivery workers pay about 40 a month to charge batteries in one of these e-bike shops, according to a worker in one store. One location in New York’s Chinatown visited by ABC News contained over 80 batteries charging at roughly the same time.

According to FDNY Deputy Commissioner Frank Dwyer, charging stations where dozens or even hundreds of batteries are being charged at the same time could pose fire hazards.

e-bike, batteries, raise, safety, concerns, rise

“That’s actually covered in the fire code. And we have our fire prevention people out there doing inspections on those properties if they’re not abiding by the proper fire code,” Dwyer said.

ABC News reached out to the fire departments for the 25 largest cities in the United States. New York City leads its metropolitan competitors with the highest number of fires caused by these devices, according to a review of city data. It’s also the leading city actively tracking the fires and working with government officials to understand and regulate the issue, according to interviews with fire officials.

The Los Angeles Fire Department said it does not have any data about fires attributable to e-bikes, and the San Francisco Fire Department does not actively track fires from LEVs like New York does.

Despite concerns about charging safety, Dialo said he was less concerned about the risk of fire than getting into an accident or getting robbed, he said. Other delivery workers ABC News spoke to seemed to agree with this prioritization of concerns.

However, recent reports of fires due to charging e-bike batteries have raised calls for action by many New Yorkers. A Nov. 5 fire at a high-rise building in midtown Manhattan that sent 38 people to the hospital was caused by a lithium-ion battery connected to a micro-mobility device, fire officials determined.

In this Nov. 5, 2022, file photo, firefighters perform a rope rescue after a fire broke out inside a high-rise building on East 52nd Street in New York. New York Daily News/TNS via Getty Images, FILE

“It’s not just that there are fires, it’s that there could be a fire in my building where I sleep and my children’s sleep,” New York City Council Member Gale Brewer told ABC News.

The FDNY is attempting to learn more about how the fires are started. Often, the bikes and the batteries are too damaged by the fires to learn about the cause of the fire, type of bike and battery involved, and whether the cause could have been a manufacturing defect.

“So, it’s very hard to examine the actual battery that fails due to the explosive nature of these fires, and the damage that they’re subjected to after the fire occurs,” Dwyer noted.

e-bike, batteries, raise, safety, concerns, rise

Brewer sponsored recent legislation focused on e-bikes. The bills currently under consideration by the city council, which the FDNY has voiced support for, include measures to increase education about fire risks from batteries, ban the sale of second-hand batteries that have been reconditioned or manipulated and which are sold on the secondary market, require UL standards for bikes and improve reporting measures.

Some activists say the move is too late.

“They pass a law to legalize [e-bikes], but they never thought about the batteries? I mean, they’re talking about the batteries three years later,” said Hildalyn Colon Hernandez, the director of policy and strategic partnerships for New York City advocacy group Los Deliveristas Unidos.

The rise of LEVs

Light electric vehicles gained popularity as many Americans rethought common methods of transportation during the pandemic. A projected 1 million LEVs are expected to be sold in the U.S. in 2022, compared to the 288,000 sold in 2019, according to Ed Benjamin, chairman of the LEV Association.

But most consumers have gravitated to affordable models.

One of the priciest e-bikes listed in Consumer Reports retails at nearly 4,000, with the cheapest recommendation at 1,300. Some budget bikes retail on sites like Amazon for under 500.

In this Nov. 15, 2022, file photo, a delivery person rides an electric bicycle through the streets of New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images, FILE

According to Mike Fritz, a chief technology officer for micromobility industry consulting firm Human Powered Solutions, the economics of the 500 e-bike points towards concerns with the quality of the bike’s battery. Just to buy a high-quality battery costs around 750. A complete bike that costs less than that amount raises questions about the quality of the battery and other components.

Some manufacturers have cut corners to lower manufacturing costs, according to Jack Hao of battery manufacturer Phylion. This includes reusing parts of used battery packs from electric cars, which can increase the likelihood of a fire hazard, he said.

Combined with a weak regulatory environment in the U.S., consumers are sometimes left with poor options, said Percy Chien, the executive chairman of the Taiwan-based Fairly Bike Manufacturing Company.

How lithium-ion batteries fail

A battery charges or releases energy by moving an electron-carrying ion between a node and a cathode, across a semipermeable barrier, Fritz said. If that barrier begins to fail and overheat because of a manufacturing defect or from an issue stemming from a faulty charger, an electrolyte liquid in the battery will begin to boil, trigger a pressure release valve, and push a gas out of the battery, which can then ignite when interacting with outside air.

An e-bike battery, which is made of dozens of small battery cells about the size of an AA battery, can cause a cascading chain reaction where one cell triggers other cells to fail, which can lead to a fire or an explosion in a worse-case scenario, he said.

A combination of cheap batteries, mismatched chargers, overuse, damage from weather, poor servicing, and other factors can combine to create deadly consequences, according to Fritz.

Keith Moravick, a vice president of engineering for Swiftmile, a manufacturer of charging systems for LEVs, noted factors that can cause battery deterioration include poor management system communicating between the battery and charger, a lack of weatherproofing for electric connectors, and the damage possibly done to a removable battery that is knocked around.

According to multiple industry experts, a move towards requiring UL standards for all batteries sold would reduce the risk of fires; however, the CPSC is only recommending such a standard at the moment.

Chris Nolte, founder of New York retailer Propel Electric Bikes, which only sells UL-certified Bosch batteries, said the issue has been mainly centralized in New York City in recent years, which is why the federal government has been slow to crackdown on the problem.

“I feel that the federal government likely will step in by 2024 and require a certification,” Nolte said.

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  • If you know you won’t be using the battery for more than a few days, keep it charged at about 80% capacity. At 80%, the battery will degrade less than at higher charge levels.
  • The battery would possibly be at an over-discharged state if it is not used for a long time. In order to prevent over-discharging, the battery shall be charged periodically (Recommended 3 months one cycle). Over-discharging may cause loss of cell performance, characteristics, or battery functions.
  • Don’t immerse the battery in water, and keep the battery in a cool dry surrounding if it stands by.
  • Don’t use or leave the battery at high temperatures as fire or heater. Otherwise, it can overheat or fire, or its performance will be degenerate and its service life will be decreased.
  • Don’t reverse the position and negative terminals.
  • Don’t connect the battery electrodes to an electrical outlet.
  • A short circuit will cause serious damage to the battery.
  • Don’t transport or store the battery together with metal objects such as hairpins, necklaces, etc.
  • Don’t use the battery in a location where static electricity and the magnetic field are great, otherwise, the safety devices may be damaged, causing hidden trouble of safety.
  • The battery can be charged while it is attached to or detached from the e-bike. (You can remove the battery by inserting the key into the lock on the side face of the battery slide. To lock the battery, insert the key into the lock on the side face of the battery slide.)
  • Use the original charger to charge the battery.
  • Only charge the battery indoors in dry spaces which are not excessively hot or cold.
  • Ensure there is no dirt or debris nearby when using the charger. Keep the charging port clean and dry. Wipe the dust around it periodically.
  • When charging the battery, first connect the charger and the battery end, and then plug the charger into power.
  • The light on the charger will be red when the battery is charging and will turn green when charging has finished.
  • Avoid leaving the charger plugged in when the battery is fully charged.
  • Do not charge the battery if you notice the battery is damaged, excessively hot, leaking, smelly, or discolored.
  • Charging the battery should take approximately 4-6 hours if the battery is mostly empty.
  • Battery charging times may increase with battery age and usage.
  • Do NOT submerge the battery in a liquid of any kind.
  • Do NOT use any metal to touch the charging port, that will cause a short-circuit.
  • Turn off the battery when not in use and before removing it from the e-bike.
  • Only grab the charger by the plug and not the cable when plugging and unplugging from the wall.
  • If the battery has trouble charging, discontinue charging and contact us immediately.

Lithium-Ion batteries can be dangerous. Take care when using and charging your battery. Failure to follow the above guidelines could result in damage to property and/or serious injury. Contact us immediately if you have any questions regarding battery safety.

The battery is guaranteed with a one-year limited warranty. If the battery has any performance faulty or its capacity is tested lower than 50% of the rated capacity, it will match the warranty term. Before using the battery, you should read the specifications, usage instructions carefully to know about its application method and areas. We are not responsible for the incident caused by not obeying the specifications including but not limited to: improper using, wrong circuit connection, wrong input power data, inconsistent with the specifications, man-made damages to the product.

Before using the battery, you should read the specifications, usage instructions carefully to know about its application method and areas. We are not responsible for the incident caused by not obeying the specifications including but not limited to: improper using, wrong circuit connection, wrong input power data, inconsistent with the specifications, man-made damages to the product.

Here’s how we solved the mystery of what this viral video truly showed.

Published Nov 30, 2022

A video shows a sea of lined-up electric scooter bikes that were abandoned because of the high cost of EV battery replacement.

On Nov. 28, 2022, the @Xx17965797N account tweeted a video with a misleading caption that claimed the clip showed a sea of lined-up electric scooter bikes that were abandoned because of the high cost of electric vehicle (EV) battery replacement. The tweet read, “Electric green scooters that have reached end of battery life. Due to the batteries being so expensive to replace, electric scooters are abandoned because disposing of them any other way is dangerous and expensive.”

This was not true, despite the tens of thousands of combined retweets and likes that the tweet received.

The same video upload from @Xx17965797N was also misleadingly reshared by accounts including @PeterDClack, @JamesMelville, and @MillerForTexas. The former two tweets received thousands of engagements, despite the fact that the information pushed in the original tweet was not true.

In cases like these where a caption is incorrect but the picture or video is real, we issue a fact-check rating of “Miscaptioned.”

The Origins of the Video

Days before the @Xx17965797N tweet was posted, the @ElevaBrasilES account also misleadingly tweeted that the same video was shot in France. The tweet went up on Nov. 21 with an incorrect caption that read, “Green energy… Cemetery of electric motorcycles in France. Now designated as a ‘biohazard zone.'” (Note: This mention of France reminded us of other rumors we’ve debunked in the past, in particular about two photos of other car graveyards. The two pictures showed false captions that claimed the cars had been abandoned due to the high cost of battery replacement, just like the video we’re looking at in this fact check.)

The oldest upload of the video that we could find came from TikTok user @smartsetting. The video was uploaded on Nov. 7 and by the end of the month had received nearly 5 million views.

Based on watching the video, the scooters appeared to be parked in a parking lot near a basketball court, perhaps in a university complex or public park. Several blurry Chinese characters were visible on the side of the bikes. At the end of the clip, a tall building could be seen on the right-hand side of the frame. Other than those pieces of information, we didn’t have much to go on.

How We Researched the Rumor

In order to find the truth behind this video, we first used Adobe Media Encoder to export a JPEG file for each and every frame from the video. The results of this export were 440 individual images from the 14-second video. We then performed numerous reverse image searches with these picture files using Google Images and TinEye.com. These reverse image searches provided several clues as to where other users had reposted the video. However, we did not find any further details from these searches.

Next, we tried several searches on Google. and YouTube with phrases such as “electric scooter China” and “electric bike graveyard China,” among other terms. This helped to find several reposts of the video. The searches also showed results for many of the sites in China that are the final resting places for massive stacks of bicycles dumped by bike-sharing companies with failed business models. Perhaps the most striking video we found was titled, “No Place To Place——The Wonders of Shared Bicycle Graveyards in China.”

At one point in our research, we stumbled upon an AFP video from 2021 that appeared to show the same yellow color and model of electric scooter bike. The caption for the clip said that it was captured “outside the city of Shenyang.” The end of the video showed a stadium with special colors for seating zones.

After an exhaustive search, we were able to find this same stadium by using the map tools on the Chinese website Baidu.com. Unlike Google Maps, Baidu.com has street-level views of nearby roads. However, this part of our effort wasn’t very helpful. It remained unclear if this was the same location where the viral clip was shot.

Finally, a Lead

In the end, it was going back to TikTok that helped us find the origins of the video. A search on TikTok for “electric share bike China” brought us to this video from @evstevepan. The video showed the same kind of yellow electric scooter bike with a similar logo. A scan of the logo using a mobile phone camera and Google Translate revealed the company name Meituan, which is known as an “all-encompassing platform for local services.”

The logos appeared to be similar. (Courtesy: @smartsetting/@evstevepan on TikTok)

We then searched the internet for Meituan and electric scooters, which produced plenty of pictures on Shutterstock.com. For a moment, the two large characters on the side of the scooter didn’t seem to match those from the viral video. We then horizontally flipped a still-frame from the viral video, which led us to discover that it had been mirrored, meaning that all words and numbers were backward.

It’s blurry, but it’s a match. “App” appears on the left, too. (Courtesy: @smartsetting/@evstevepan on TikTok)

All of these developments in our research led us to news articles that helped to show our findings were lining up.

Meituan ‘Walked Away’ from Bike-Sharing

In April 2018, news broke that Meituan had purchased the company Mobike for 2.7 billion. According to the story, Mobike is “a Chinese startup that helped pioneer bike-sharing services worldwide.”

But by November of that same year, TechCrunch reported that Meituan would be “[walking] away from bike-sharing and ride-hailing,” as there wasn’t enough demand from customers for the supply of its bike-sharing venture:

In April, Meituan entered the bike-sharing fray after it scooped up top player Mobike for 2.7 billion to face off Alibaba-backed Ofo. Over the past few years, Mobike and Ofo were burning through large sums of investor money in a bid to win users from subsidized rides, but both have shown signs of softening their stance recently.

Mobike is downsizing its fleets to “avoid an oversupply” as the bike-sharing market falters, Meituan’s chief financial officer Chen Shaohui said during the earnings call. Ofo has also scaled back by closing down many of its international operations.


During its third quarter that ended September 30, Meituan posted a 97.2 percent jump on revenues to 19.1 billion yuan, or 2.75 billion, on the back of strong growth in food delivery transactions. The firm’s investments in new initiatives – including ride-hailing and bike-sharing – took a toll as operating losses nearly tripled to 3.45 billion yuan compared to a year ago. Meituan shares plunged as much as 14 percent on Friday, the most since its spectacular listing.

Just as so many electric bicycles from bike-sharing companies had piled up across China, so had electric scooters like the ones seen in the viral video.

In sum, social media users falsely claimed that a video showed tons of lined-up electric scooter bikes that were abandoned in a “graveyard” due to the high cost of EV battery replacement. All evidence pointed to a simple answer: supply and demand. The number of electric scooter bikes and bicycles far outnumbered the number of people who requested to use them (or else they went missing or were stolen), which resulted in downsizing by some companies, and the closure of others. The clip appears to have been shot in China, although its precise location is unclear.

We reached out to Meituan for comment on Nov. 29 but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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