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Battery

E-bike Battery Fire Statistics

By Anastasiia Chub

Table of contents:

E-bike Battery Fire Statistics Safety of E-bikes How to Take Care of an E-bike Battery

The popularity of electric bikes has spiked in the past few years. Numbers are showing that the sales have increased four times between 2019 and 2022.

The trend continued in 2023 when market research from the National Bicycle Dealers. Association showed a 33% increase compared to the previous year.

However, this has also resulted in some concerning e-bike battery fire statistics, which we see more and more all across the media.

There are many reasons why e-bikes are so sought-after.

They are highly adaptable, and you can use them for commuting, fun, or even delivery work. Also, they are much cheaper than some other means of transportation while not being as physically demanding as regular bikes.

But is there any truth to these rumors, and what do these e-bike battery fire statistics actually mean? Let’s find out.

E-bike Battery Fire Statistics

Before I begin talking about whether electric bikes are safe, here are some discerning statistics that might sound alarming at first:

  • In the first half of 2024, more than 60 incidents of e-bike fires had already been reported in New York City alone, and five people had died. In 2023, there were 216 fires in total, resulting in six deaths.
  • About 1 in 15,000 e-bikes may experience a fire, and almost all of these will be due to the lithium-ion batteries.
  • Lithium batteries, the ones that e-bikes use, have caused 18 deaths in New York City in 2023, increasing the number of fire death victims to 106.

All of this might make you think that electric bikes are unsafe and that fires happen more often than not. However, the truth is that the number of accidents is quite small when you take into account the number of e-bikes on the street.

It is estimated that there are more than 65,000 e-bikes on the streets in New York City, primarily used by delivery workers due to the convenience and efficiency these vehicles offer.[2]

Also, unlike many other means of transportation, you can get e-bikes without a license and without an SSN in most states, including NY.

Due to all of these advantages, e-bike sales are about to surpass 1 million units annually in the entirety of the USA.

When you look into all these numbers, it’s easy to see that things are not as bad as they might seem the first time you looked into these e-bike battery fire statistics.

Safety of E-bikes

Safety experts have been advising caution when operating e-bikes for years now. However, this is due to the high speed these vehicles can reach and not due to fires.

Still, it’s true that the lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes, e-mopeds, and other Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) can catch on fire. This is due to thermal runaway, a short circuit that occurs due to a manufacturing defect, damage, or misuse.

Thermal runaway releases plenty of heat, which leads to a chemical reaction that generates more heat, causing the cell to collapse, which will lead to more heat. This chain reaction can result in a fire.

Luckily for all e-bike riders, the chances of a thermal runaway happening are quite rare.

While six deaths in a single year might sound like a lot, let’s look at some other numbers for New York City in 2023:

  • 235 people have died in car accidents
  • 104 pedestrians died due to traffic
  • 29 cyclists have died in traffic

Statistically speaking, you are more likely to get injured just by walking on the street than by driving an e-bike!

Keep in mind, though, that this is only if you’re using bikes from reputable manufacturers, such as Whizz bikes, that use high-quality parts and batteries. These e-bikes have gone through thorough safety checks to make sure they are as safe as possible.

How to Take Care of an E-bike Battery

Of course, just because the chances of your e-bike battery catching fire are low, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some precautionary measures.

As mentioned, most of the time, the reason why the battery catches fire or explodes is due to malfunction or user error. So, learning how to properly care for an e-bike battery is an essential task.

First and foremost, all e-bike batteries have their lifespan, which is determined by charging cycles.

For example, the Samsung e-bike battery will experience a 10% drop in capacity after 300 cycles and then 30% after 700 uses. With proper maintenance, the average lifespan of this battery is between two and three years.

Once this lifespan is over, it is advised to change the battery to avoid any malfunctions.

Always charge your e-bike battery indoors in a dry location. The ideal temperature range is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but other ranges can apply depending on the manufacturer and the quality of the battery.

As most fire accidents happen during charging, it’s a smart thing to have a smoke detector in the room - especially if you’ve bought from unverified sellers who use uncertified batteries that are prone to fires.

When it comes to the charger, always use the one approved by the e-bike manufacturers.

Make sure to store your bike indoors where it’s dry, especially in the winter. This will further help maintain the battery’s condition.

Choosing a good manufacturer also increases safety. Samsung, which I have already mentioned, has a reputation for being reliable and having high-quality cells that can last for a long time, which is why many e-bike manufacturers prefer them over other brands.

Make sure to remove the battery before cleaning the rest of your bike. Also, you should clean the battery itself with a damp cloth - but always do this when it’s removed from the bike.

Finally, if you notice any damage to your battery, remove it right away and contact your manufacturer.

FAQs

Can E-bike Batteries Catch Fire When Not Charging?

There are numerous videos online that allegedly show e-bikes spontaneously combusting. While a few of these videos do seem genuine, most of them show bikes catching fire during the charging period.

It is extremely rare for a bike to catch fire when not charging. When this does happen, there is almost always an underlying condition, such as damage or a short circuit.

Can a Whole E-bike Be Burned?

Just like any other vehicle or electronic device, an e-bike can entirely burn down if it catches fire. However, this is extremely rare, and most videos found online actually show an e-scooter, which is less safe than a bike.

Is It Safe to Charge E-bike Battery Overnight?

Most e-bike battery fire statistics show that most accidents happen during charging, making people think it is unsafe to charge their bikes overnight.

Still, it is perfectly safe to leave an electric bike charging during the night. If the battery is proper, it won’t overcharge or overdrain.

Also, always remember that lithium-ion batteries shouldn’t be plugged in the charger all the time.

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