Surge in e-scooter sales prompts warning from safety experts

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Almost one in seven UK adults are planning on purchasing an e-bike or e-scooter this year, equivalent to more than seven million people, but a charity has warned that they can present a danger to riders.

The charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) has said that products should only be purchased from “reputable retailers” as previous investigations had uncovered dangerous electronic products for sale online.

In particular, the lithium-ion batteries found inside electric scooters are prone to catch fire if they are poorly manufactured as was demonstrated during Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 fiasco.

While e-scooters are currently illegal to purchase for use on British roads, legalisation is being considered and rental trials began earlier this month that will not require riders to be trained or wear a helmet. Only rental e-scooters are currently allowed on roads, and they will be limited to 15.5mph, while using an e-bike is already permitted.

The ESF survey of 3,002 adults comes as the government has started encouraging the public to return to work with many looking to avoid public transport as lockdown eases across the country.

Around 13 per cent of Brits said they already owned an e-scooter or e-bike and 25- to 34-year-olds were found to be the most likely age group to buy one.

Nearly double the number of male respondents said they intended to purchase one of the vehicles compared with women.

Martyn Allen, ESF technical director, said: “As personal transport evolves, we are becoming increasingly dependent on electricity and consumers should be cautious of the risks involved.

“Items such as e-bikes and e-scooters are powered by lithium-ion batteries and will be required to charge for long periods of time. Substandard versions of these batteries can pose a serious risk to life if a fault occurs.

“Where you purchase your batteries and charger packs is just as important as the bike or scooter itself. With so many set to make the purchase of an electric bike or scooter this year, consumers should exercise caution about whom they are buying from.”

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