ACCC goes beyond recall, bans 'hoverboards'

Ask the French, they'll tell you: Li-ion batteries explode

Self-balancing scooters, which in late 2015 and early this year set records for the number of product recall notices issued in Australia, are now subject to a wide-ranging ban from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Ignoring the ban would put manufacturers and retailers at risk of million-dollar fines.

The consumer regulator hasn't spelled out which devices are covered by the ban, but in its regulatory statement says it's been in touch with “all known hoverboard suppliers” about the ban.

So far, the ACCC has recalled hoverboards from 20 importers and/or retailers.

The ban comes as a response to a number of house fires here (and several overseas). Two houses, the notice says, were reportedly destroyed and others extensively damaged.

It's down to the batteries and electrical systems. The dodgy charging systems in cheap hoverboards create the fire risk, and the ACCC's notice says the products can only be sold if:

  • Batteries comply with UL 2272 section 16 and UL 2580 (the latter covering batteries for electric vehicles, or the IEC 62133 battery safety standard; and
  • Sections 11, 15.1 – 15.5, 23, 24, 27 and 27 of UL 2272, or compliance with sections 11 and 19 of IEC 60335-1 or AS/NZ 60335-1.

The ban is already in effect.

Exploding batteries are on everyones' mind at the moment, it seems: at the end of last week, Fairfax reported that French shipbuilder DCNS was warning Australia against buying its new submarine fleet from Japan.

The reason? DCNS believes the only way the subs in the Japanese bid can deliver the range Australia requires is if the vessels are packed full of lithium batteries.

Deputy chief executive Marie-Pierre de Bailliencourt said “We know that the technology today that is used is the same one used in cars and in cars they explode”, adding that “there's no proven lithium ion technology today”.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which leads the Japanese bid, rubbished the statement, saying its batteries go through “rigorous and complete verification testing.”

Since the new submarines won't enter service for more than a decade, Vulture South imagines there's going to be time to test the lithium-ion batteries before they put anyone at risk. ®

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