China set to introduce mandatory national standards on e-bike batteries after recent incidents
Published: Feb 26, 2024 09:54 PM
A woman rides an e-bike in rain in Jinan, East China's Shandong Province on June 11, 2023. Photo: IC

A woman rides an e-bike in rain in Jinan, East China's Shandong Province on June 11, 2023. Photo: IC

 Following a series of recent fires nationwide involving electric bicycles, the public's concern about the safety of electric bicycle batteries has been growing. According to the latest media reports, China is set to introduce mandatory national standards on the matter.

Although many cities have established local technical standards for the safety of the lithium-ion batteries used in electric bicycles, a mandatory national standard has not yet been implemented.

In 2022, Beijing's bicycle and e-bike industry association formulated a group standard called "Technical Specifications for Lithium-ion Power Battery Packs for Electric Bicycles." This standard includes 33 safety technical indicators such as over-voltage protection, charge over-current protection, discharge over-current protection and temperature protection.

In Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, the city with the highest number of lithium battery electric bicycles in the country, a group standard called "Technical Specifications for Lithium-ion Batteries and Battery Packs for Electric Bicycles" was issued on November 20, 2023, as reported by local newspaper the Yangcheng Evening News. According to the new standard, a thermal runaway alarm for a lithium battery electric bicycle must go off five minutes before reaching danger levels that could lead to a fire or explosion.

At the national level, the mandatory national standard "Safety Technical Specification of Lithium-ion Battery for Electric Bicycle," which was drafted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2022, has completed the drafting and consultation stage and is currently under review, according to China Central Television (CCTV).

According to the project plan, this mandatory national standard will be released this year, He Penglin, deputy director of the Safety Technology Research Center of the China Electronics Technology Standardization Institute, was quoted as saying by CCTV.

The upcoming national standard will fill the technical gap in national-level supervision of the safety and quality of lithium-ion batteries for electric bicycles, He said.

When the standard is issued, products or services that do not meet them cannot be produced, sold, imported, or provided.

China is the global leader in e-bikes, including in terms of both the annual and total number of e-bikes manufactured and sold as well as the number of e-bikes on the streets. With their popularity, the number of e-bike battery-related fires is also high. 

China's current safety technical specifications for electric bicycles were announced in 2018 and officially implemented in 2019. In July 2023, the safety requirements for e-bike battery chargers went into effect, while those for electric bicycles electrical systems went into effect in January. However, mandatory standards for electric bicycle batteries at the national level have not been introduced.

According to statistics from the National Fire and Rescue Administration, there were 21,000 reported cases of electric vehicle fires nationwide in 2023, an increase of 17.4 percent from 2022. In 2022, there were 18,000 reported cases of electric vehicle fires nationwide, a significant increase of 23.4 percent from 2021.

On Friday, a fire broke out in a residential area in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province, resulting in 15 deaths. Preliminary analysis indicated that the fire started in the area where electric bicycles were parked on the ground floor of six buildings. On Sunday, separate electric vehicle fires occurred in Beijing and Shanghai. The frequent occurrence of e-bike-related fires after the Spring Festival has further raised the Chinese public's concern about the safety standards for electric vehicle batteries.

On Monday, the Ministry of Emergency Management emphasized during a meeting the need to learn lessons from these recent fire incidents and urged all regions to thoroughly investigate and rectify various fire safety risks, especially the prominent issue of electric bicycles entering buildings and homes.

Global Times