Half a million hoverboards recalled by US regulator

A recalled hoverboard. Image courtesy of the CPSC
A recalled hoverboard. Image courtesy of the CPSC

More than 500,000 so-called ‘hoverboards’ have been recalled by a US regulator due to dangerous and faulty batteries.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled a number of different hoverboard products – also known as self-balancing scooters – following numerous reports of battery problems.

Specifically, this category of devices had developed a reputation for “explosive” batteries, which were prone to suddenly bursting into flame.

The CPSC recall lends credence to these reports, noting at least 99 incidents of incendiary damage, including several burn injuries.

For this reason they recommend “consumers should immediately stop using these recalled products”, and instead contact the device’s manufacturer for a full refund.

“CPSC has investigated more than 60 hoverboard fires in more than 20 states that resulted in more than $2 million in property damage. To prevent another fire and possibly a death, I am urging consumers who have a recalled hoverboard to take advantage of this recall,” said Commission chairman Elliot Kaye in a statement.

More than half of the recalled hoverboards were manufactured by a single company, Swagway, with 267,000 of its Swagway X1 models being affected.

Extremely dangerous

The problems with these devices relate to poor quality manufacturing by uncertified operators usually located in China.

These poorly built devices combined with the well-documented volatility of Lithium-ion battery packs to create “extremely dangerous” products according to the CPSC.

“…all of the hoverboard models included in this recall were made with fundamental design flaws that put people at real risk. They were made and sold without a safety standard in place,” said Kaye.

“Hoverboards that are not certified by Underwriters Laboratories are extremely dangerous and are a fire hazard waiting to happen.”

In order to help improve the quality of these devices which are being imported into the US, the regulator is working with major Chinese online retailer Alibaba.

Following CPSC requests, Alibaba took action to require certifications from testing agencies for hoverboards listed by third-parties on its online marketplaces, something which should go some way to reducing the number of shoddy imports.