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PRBA Statement on Hoverboards and Lithium Ion Batteries

PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association said today the widely-publicized hoverboard’s safety issues were likely caused by manufacturers using poorly manufactured and designed or even counterfeit lithium ion batteries.

“Blaming reputable battery manufacturers for the hoverboard’s safety problems is incorrect and unfair. There is mounting evidence demonstrating that low-cost hoverboard manufacturers based in China are relying on substandard batteries,” PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner said.

“We see very few safety problems with lithium ion batteries or devices powered by them from reputable suppliers that have met stringent testing requirements, rigorous quality control standards and tough regulatory safeguards,” Kerchner said. “We do have concerns about a handful of companies willing to manufacture and ship products containing poorly manufactured lithium ion batteries rushed to market in order to meet consumer demand during the holiday season,” Kerchner added.

Safety is the No. 1 priority for all PRBA members. Billions of lithium ion batteries have been safely manufactured by PRBA members over the last 25 years. Lithium ion batteries safely power thousands of consumer electronic products, including cameras, cell phones and tablets, life-saving medical devices such as heart defibrillators and high-tech equipment and jet fighters deployed by America’s armed services.

Many hoverboards appear to be an unfortunate anomaly. Here’s why: Some hoverboards apparently violate the battery safety requirements scrupulously observed by most of the battery industry and its customers. This includes meeting the mandatory testing requirements in all of the international dangerous transport regulations and voluntary industry standards such as ANSI/UL 2271.

Delta Airlines has said some hoverboards were mislabeled and use batteries that exceed the Watt-hour rating for batteries that may be carried on planes by passengers. No responsible supplier would ship such products. Some hoverboard batteries also reportedly are counterfeit versions of high-quality lithium ion batteries. According to press accounts, hoverboard manufacturers using the counterfeit batteries then willfully misinformed shippers and regulatory authorities that these batteries were produced by reputable manufacturers.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently issued a warning about counterfeit hoverboard batteries and announced that the agency has seized 164 hoverboards with fake batteries or other counterfeit marks. PRBA appreciates the efforts of the CBP and other federal agencies that have been aggressively enforcing the applicable safety and import/export laws.

It’s important that any misconduct by hoverboard manufacturers and their misuse of lithium ion batteries be stopped. Hoverboard manufacturers and their battery suppliers must observe the same safety regulations that apply to the rest of the battery industry.

It would also be unfortunate if the blatantly illegal actions and aberrant behavior of a few rogue manufacturers were allowed to distort the battery industry’s exemplary safety record.

In fact, the hoverboard controversy again demonstrates that the best way to ensure safety is to bolster compliance through improved enforcement efforts against non-compliant manufacturers, importers and shippers of products containing lithium ion batteries.