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U.S. Government Says Hoverboards Are Verboten

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The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has deemed hoverboards “unsafe” and, in a letter released by the organization, all hoverboard manufacturers to gain UL certification before selling more boards.

“Consumers risk serious injury or death if their self-balancing scooters ignite and burn. From December 1, 2015, through February 17, 2016, CPSC received reports, from consumers in 24 states, of 52 self-balancing scooter fires resulting in over $2 million in property damage, including the destruction of two homes and an automobile,” wrote Robert J. Howell, acting director of Office of Compliance and Field Operations. “We believe that many of the reported incidents, and the related unreasonable risk of injuries and deaths associated with fires in these products, would be prevented if all such products were manufactured in compliance with the referenced voluntary safety standards.”

“Should the staff encounter such products at import, we may seek detention and/or seizure. In addition, if we encounter such products domestically, we may seek a recall of these products,” he wrote.

This means a recall could be underway of the more dangerous hoverboards and we can expect to see a general sales stop nationwide as manufacturers realized that customers do not want to die in hoverboard fires.

From the letter:

I am writing this letter to urge you to make certain that self-balancing scooters that you import, manufacture, distribute, or sell in the United States comply with currently applicable voluntary safety standards, including all referenced standards and requirements contained in UL 2272 – Outline of Investigation for Electrical Systems for Self-balancing Scooters. The UL standard can be purchased from Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Additionally, all lithium ion battery products must comply with test requirements under UN/DOT 38.3 Transport of Dangerous Goods for Lithium Metal and Lithium Ion Batteries.

Self-balancing scooters that do not meet these voluntary safety standards pose an unreasonable risk of fire to consumers. Consumers risk serious injury or death if their self- balancing scooters ignite and burn. From December 1, 2015, through February 17, 2016, CPSC received reports, from consumers in 24 states, of 52 self-balancing scooter fires resulting in over $2 million in property damage, including the destruction of two homes and an automobile. We believe that many of the reported incidents, and the related unreasonable risk of injuries and deaths associated with fires in these products, would be prevented if all such products were manufactured in compliance with the referenced voluntary safety standards.

The CPSC Office of Compliance and Field Operations staff considers self-balancing scooters that do not meet the safety standards referenced above to be defective, and that they may present a substantial product hazard under Section 15(a) of the CPSA, 15 U.S.C. § 2064(a) or could be determined to be an imminent hazard under Section 12 of the CPSA, 15 U.S.C. § 2061. Should the staff encounter such products at import, we may seek detention and/or seizure. In addition, if we encounter such products domestically, we may seek a recall of these products.

In view of the foregoing, I urge you to review your product line and ensure that all self- balancing scooters that you manufacture, import, distribute, or sell in the United States are in compliance with the above referenced voluntary safety standards. The CPSC staff will follow-up as appropriate in the future to ensure that the firms are meeting their obligations in this area.

Hoverboards were a fascinating fad and a great example of a hardware meme akin to a Pet Rock or Wacky Wall Walker that forced demand to go briefly stratospheric as popularity surged. In the end, however, it looks like this year’s hot holiday present may be next year’s forgotten fire hazard.

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