The UK government has issued a warning to e-bike users against using incompatible chargers. This comes after a coroner's investigation found that a man named Mizanur Rahman died due to a fire caused by plugging an e-bike battery into an incompatible charger.
Fire England, a division of the Home Office, has advised consumers to only use chargers and batteries approved by the manufacturer. This advisory was issued after Rahman's death in March. Rahman, 41, died in a fire in an overcrowded London flat, which was occupied by several food couriers using e-bikes.
There are calls for the government to ban certain types of chargers and batteries, especially those imported from China and available online. These are often used by food couriers to modify their e-bikes to increase their range and speed. Dangerous chargers have been found on platforms like eBay, Amazon, and Wish.com.
The coroner for Rahman's inquest, Adam Smith, stated that evidence from the London Fire Brigade suggests that the battery was likely plugged into a charger with a different voltage rating. This caused the battery to combust, leading to a "thermal runaway and catastrophic failure of the lithium-ion battery".
Rahman was trapped in a council flat in Shadwell, London, and succumbed to his injuries in a hospital four days after the incident.
E-bike battery explosions and combustions have resulted in hundreds of fires in the UK. Since 2020, at least 12 deaths and 190 injuries have been linked to e-bike and e-scooter fires. Smith highlighted the urgency of the situation, noting nine deaths in the past year alone.
Smith issued a report to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), emphasising the need for controls or standards for the sale of lithium-ion batteries, chargers, and conversion kits for electric-powered personal vehicles in the UK.
The government is currently conducting a safety study on e-bike batteries. WMG, formerly known as Warwick Manufacturing Group and affiliated with the University of Warwick, has been tasked with researching e-bike batteries before introducing new regulations.
The Department for Business and Trade stated that they are reviewing the coroner's report and are working on addressing the fire risks associated with e-scooters and e-bikes.