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Officials shut down e-scooter retailer for building 'Frankenstein' lithium-ion batteries

Published February 12, 2024

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — City Lithium-ion Task Force officials closed a Queens e-scooter business last week saying the location was rebuilding lithium-ion battery packs into what it labeled "Frankenstein batteries" that violated the city fire code.

FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said during a news conference in front of the now-shuttered Wilson's E-Scooter Shop that officials recovered about 60 battery packs and hundreds of lithium-ion cells. They also confiscated about 25 e-scooters and 25 combination electric and gas mopeds.

Kavanagh said some of the cells started to fail while being removed. Officials filled five drums worth of packs and cells, and seven e-scooters were also taken for being able to exceed the 20 mph regulation.

The task force consists of fire marshals, the Bureau of Fire Prevention, and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

"Tuesday's inspections saved lives and property," Kavanagh said.

The DCWP charged Wilson's with 31 counts of violating micromobility safety laws, including selling uncertified lithium-ion batteries and micromobility devices that use them, said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga.

Since enforcing the battery certification laws in September, the DCWP has conducted more than 500 inspections, many of them in collaboration with the FDNY. It has uncovered nearly 200 violations.

The city passed legislation last March that became law in September prohibiting the sale of micromobility devices and lithium-ion batteries that don't meet recognized certification standards like UL. The action was taken in response to rising fires and deaths caused by exploding lithium-ion batteries. New York City experienced 240 fires and 17 deaths from lithium-ion battery incidents in 2023, according to FDNY. There have been no deaths reported this year from lithium-ion battery fires.

Last month, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she will propose a state-wide ban on the sale of uncertified lithium-ion batteries.

Screenshot from FDNY video.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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