consultation paper for review of the standard for self
Consultation paper on
inclusion of single-wheeled
scooters in the self-balancing
scooter safety standard
May 2017
0
Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
Disclaimer
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has developed this consultation
paper to seek the views of stakeholders about proposed changes to the mandatory safety
standard for self-balancing scooters.
© Commonwealth of Australia 2017. All material contained within this work is provided under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence (creativecommons.org.au/), with the exception
of any logos, illustrations or images. You may forward or otherwise distribute the paper. You may
re-use the text in other formats, provided the ACCC is acknowledged as the source of the material
and directions to access the full document are provided. You may not copy or reproduce any
logos, illustrations or images. For more information, contact the Director Corporate
Communications, ACCC, GPO Box 3131, Canberra ACT 2601
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
Table of contents
1.
Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 3
2.
Policy options .................................................................................................................................. 3
3.
Single wheeled self-balancing scooters .......................................................................................... 4
3.1. Background ............................................................................................................................. 4
3.2. Fires associated with single wheeled self-balancing scooters ................................................ 4
3.3. Testing of single wheeled self-balancing scooters.................................................................. 4
4.
Background ..................................................................................................................................... 4
4.1. Regulation of two wheeled self-balancing scooters ................................................................ 4
4.2. Requirements of the safety standard for two-wheeled self-balancing scooters ..................... 5
4.3. Electrical Safety Authorities .................................................................................................... 6
5.
Detailed description of policy options .............................................................................................. 7
Option 1 - Keep the current safety standard, which does not include single wheeled selfbalancing scooters (status quo) ...................................................................................................... 7
Option 2 – Remake the safety standard to include single wheeled self-balancing scooters .......... 7
6.
Preliminary position ......................................................................................................................... 8
7.
Consultation questions .................................................................................................................... 8
8.
Have your say.................................................................................................................................. 9
9.
Glossary ........................................................................................................................................ 10
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
1.
Introduction
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is consulting on expanding
the scope of the national safety standard for self-balancing scooters (also known as
hoverboards, gliders, smart boards, sky walkers or mod boards) to include single wheeled
self-balancing scooters (also known as electric unicycles, monoboards or gyro wheels).
On 17 July 2016 a national safety standard for self-balancing scooters was made mandatory
under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).1 The standard will expire on 16 July 2018 (and
the ACCC will continue to work with electrical safety regulators to achieve a suitable long
term solution). This safety standard does not currently include single wheeled self-balancing
scooters.
Since June 2016 a self-balancing scooter, including a single wheeled self-balancing scooter,
has been required to meet specific Australian or international safety standards before it can
be sold in Victoria. However, the electrical safety regimes of the other states and territories
do not cover these products. The ACCC is proposing to include single wheeled selfbalancing scooters in the provisions of the national safety standard for self-balancing
scooters ahead of the eventual regulation of this class of products by state and territory
electrical safety regulators.
This review is taking place because:

The ACCC is aware of two fires in the United Kingdom (UK) associated with single
wheeled self-balancing scooters in 2015.

Testing commissioned by the ACCC indicates that single wheeled self-balancing
scooters may pose the same electrical safety risk as two-wheeled self-balancing
scooters.
The consultation process outlined in this paper may be the only opportunity for
you to provide input into this review.
You are encouraged to make submissions.
2.
Policy options
This consultation paper discusses two policy options:
Option 1
Keep the current safety standard, which does not include single
wheeled self-balancing scooters (status quo)
Option 2
Remake the safety standard to include single wheeled self-balancing
scooters
1
Consumer Goods (Self-balancing Scooters) Safety Standard 2016, www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L01180.
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
3.
Single wheeled self-balancing scooters
3.1.
Background
Single wheeled self-balancing scooters were invented in 2010.2 They became widely
available in 2014. Generally, single wheeled self-balancing scooters are more expensive
than two wheeled ones. ACCC market surveillance found the average retail price of a single
wheeled self-balancing scooter is $1240, compared to two wheeled self-balancing scooters,
which have an average price of $200. The product appears to be less popular than the twowheeled type, and there are fewer products in the marketplace.
3.2.
Fires associated with single wheeled self-balancing scooters
The ACCC is aware of two fires associated with single wheeled self-balancing scooters that
occurred in the UK. One occurred on 11 October 2015,3 the other on 7 December 2015.4 In
both cases, the scooters were charging when the fires started. The ACCC is not aware of
any other fires associated with single-wheeled self-balancing scooters.
3.3.
Testing of single wheeled self-balancing scooters
After commencement of the safety standard for two wheeled self-balancing scooters, the
ACCC arranged testing for one single wheeled self-balancing scooter against the Energy
Safe Victoria (ESV) requirements for self-balancing scooters (which include single wheeled
self-balancing scooters within the definition of hoverboard)5. The ACCC did this to find out if
single wheeled self-balancing scooters might pose any of the same electrical safety risks as
two-wheeled self-balancing scooters.
The single wheeled self-balancing scooter failed sections 11.1 (excess temperature during
normal use), 11.8 (normal use test) and some sections of 30.2 (specifying non-metallic
material to be resistant to ignition and spread of fire) of AS/NZS 60335.1. Section 11 is
referenced in Consumer Goods (Self-balancing Scooters) Safety Standard 2016, and while
section 30.2 is not referenced in this standard, the ESV standard requires compliance with
this clause for products sold in Victoria.
The ACCC referred the matter to ESV because it failed ESV’s requirements for selfbalancing scooters.6 ESV negotiated a recall of the product.
4.
Background
4.1.
Regulation of two wheeled self-balancing scooters
In December 2015, the ACCC became aware of overseas media reports and social media
posts of electrical fires associated with self-balancing scooters (then referred to as
hoverboards). On 10 December 2015, the ACCC published an alert, warning consumers
2
J Kairman, For Solowheel maker, a patent rights nightmare in China, Los Angeles Times, 30 May 2015,
www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-china-counterfeit-20150531-story.html .
3
London Fire Brigade, Brigade issues ‘hoverboard’ safety warning on Back to the Future Day , 21 October 2015
www.london-fire.gov.uk/news/LatestNewsReleases_BrigadeissueshoverboardsafetywarningonBacktotheFutureDay.asp.
4
L Proto, Family's Christmas ruined after electric unicycle explodes while charging and devastates home, Evening
Standard, 14 December 2015, www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/familys-christmas-ruined-after-electric-unicycle-explodeswhile-charging-and-devastates-home-a3136491.html.
5
http://www.esv.vic.gov.au/technical-information/guidance-for-compliance-to-asnzs-3820-for-hoverboards-or-self-balancingscooters/
6
Details of ESV’s requirements are available from the ESV website: www.esv.vic.gov.au/Electricity-Professionals/Electricalequipment-and-appliances.
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
about the fires overseas and the risk of falls from two-wheeled self-balancing scooters.7 In
December 2015, the Australian Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) published
guidance on the characteristics of an electrically safe self-balancing scooter based on the
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and Australian/New Zealand (AS/NZS)
standards.8
In early January 2016 there was a house fire in Victoria caused by a two-wheeled selfbalancing scooter that was being charged. This prompted the Victorian Minister for
Consumer Affairs to ask the Commonwealth Minister to ban the products. On 12 January
2016, the Commonwealth Minister published a Safety Warning Notice, announcing the
ACCC was investigating the risks associated with the use of self-balancing scooters.9
Since the fire in Victoria, the ACCC is aware of eight fires in Australia associated with selfbalancing scooters. Five of these fires started while the scooter was charging, and fire
authorities could not confirm whether the scooter that caused one of the other fires was
charging at the time the fire started. Another house fire started one hour after the selfbalancing scooter stopped charging. The damage caused to three of these houses was so
significant that the houses were irreparable.
The ACCC is not aware of any incidents of two-wheeled self-balancing scooters catching fire
while being ridden in Australia; however there are reports of such incidents overseas.
Following the fires and investigation by the ACCC, the Minister imposed an interim ban on
the sale of unsafe two-wheeled self-balancing scooters that did not meet specified safety
standards.10 The interim ban came into effect on 19 March 2016, was extended twice and
came to end on 16 July 2016. On 17 July 2016, a safety standard for self-balancing scooters
came into effect.11 The standard will expire on 16 July 2018.
The standard defines a self-balancing scooter as a two-wheeled, ride on device with no
steering grips, seats or handlebars, powered by a lithium-ion battery that is rechargeable via
connection to a mains power supply.
4.2.
Requirements of the safety standard for two-wheeled selfbalancing scooters
The safety standard references and adopts sections of the International Electrotechnical
Commission (IEC) Household electrical appliances general safety standard (IEC 60335) and
the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) self-balancing scooter standard (UL 2272). Both the IEC
and UL standards provide the technical frameworks, metrics and specifications which
regulations can refer to and make mandatory.
The IEC standard is a general voluntary standard applying to household electrical
appliances. Under the current national standard for two wheeled self-balancing scooters,
products have to be compliant with specific sections of the standard that are adopted by the
regulation. In Victoria, both two-wheeled and single wheeled self-balancing scooters must
7
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Stay safe on hoverboards, MR 251/15, Canberra, 2015, viewed 9
December 2016, www.accc.gov.au/media-release/stay-safe-on-hoverboards.
8
Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council, Information Bulletin – Electrical safety of hoverboards and electric scooters,
December 2015 www.erac.gov.au/images/Downloads/Information%20Notice%20%2013%20Electrical%20Safety%20of%20Hoverboards%20and%20Electric%20Scooters%20v1.0.pdf.
9
Product Safety Australia, Consumer protection notice No. 1 of 2016 - Safety warning notice (Hoverboards), 12 January
2016.
10
Australian Consumer Law Imposition of Interim Ban on Hoverboards that do not meet Specific Safety Requirements,
www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L00357.
11
Consumer Goods (Self-balancing Scooters) Safety Standard 2016, www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L01180.
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
also comply with these provisions, but in the other states and territories there is no such
requirement.
The UL standard was designed specifically for self-balancing scooters. Sections of this
standard have also been mandated for two wheeled self-balancing scooters in the national
standard, however have not been previously mandated for singe wheeled self-balancing
scooters. The sections from both standards specified for two wheeled self-balancing
scooters are designed to prevent overheating while charging, during normal use and to
prevent abnormal operation. The rationale for specifying these sections is detailed in full in
the Regulation Impact Statement, which is available on the Federal Register of Legislation.12
It is briefly summarised below.
Based on Australian and international evidence, it appears that fires and other incidents are
most likely to be caused by self-balancing scooters with one or more of the following
characteristics:

they contain substandard lithium-ion batteries

they are designed and manufactured with substandard mechanical protection for the
batteries

they are designed and manufactured with substandard electrical circuitry that does not
include adequate over-current, over-temperature or over-charging protection for the
batteries

they have non-compliant electrical chargers.
To minimise risk of fire, the ACCC concluded that, as a minimum, self-balancing scooters
should include appropriate components and electrical circuitry to safely manage each of the
following:

battery charging

battery discharging

battery temperature controls

unbalanced charge in multiple lithium-ion battery cells.
4.3.
Electrical Safety Authorities
In June 2016, ESV gazetted a prohibition notice to prevent the sale of self-balancing
scooters in Victoria, unless ESV has issued a Certificate of Compliance for the selfbalancing scooter.13 This means that a self-balancing scooter has to meet specific Australian
or international safety standards before it can be sold in Victoria.
Electrical safety regimes vary between the states and territories. The electrical safety laws in
all states and territories apply to self-balancing scooter electrical chargers since they operate
at mains voltage (240 volts AC).
However, the electrical safety regulators in most Australian states and territories do not
regulate self-balancing scooter batteries and battery control systems. This is because selfbalancing scooters operate at an extra low voltage level (generally below 50 volts), which is
outside the scope of their laws.
12
Consumer Goods (Self-balancing Scooters) Safety Standard 2016 Explanatory Statement,
www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L01180/Explanatory%20Statement/Text.
13
Details are available on the ESV website: www.esv.vic.gov.au/Electricity-Professionals/Electrical-equipment-andappliances.
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
ESV has advised the ACCC that the electrical safety legislation in Victoria allows it to
adequately manage both charger and battery safety issues in self-balancing scooters.
Regulatory gaps in electrical safety laws in most Australian states and territories mean that
the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is currently the most appropriate legislative regime to
address immediate safety issues with self-balancing scooters in the interim. The ACCC will
continue to work with all electrical safety regulators to achieve a suitable long term solution
under state and territory electrical safety laws.
5. Detailed description of policy options
Option 1 - Keep the current safety standard, which does not include
single wheeled self-balancing scooters (status quo)
Description
The safety standard would not be changed and would continue to only apply to two-wheeled
self-balancing scooters. Most consumer goods in Australia are not regulated by mandatory
safety standards. However, suppliers still need to have regard to the consumer protection
provisions of the ACL. The ACL provides consumers with specific protections for consumer
transactions in the form of statutory consumer guarantees every time they purchase goods
or services.
Single wheeled self-balancing scooters are currently regulated in Victoria pursuant to the
ESV prohibition notice but are not regulated elsewhere in Australia.
Benefits
There would be no additional regulatory costs for suppliers, and no barrier to entry to new
suppliers into the market.
Limitations
Some evidence suggests that single wheeled self-balancing scooters pose many of the
same risks to consumers as those currently covered by the safety standard. Consumers
using these products are not currently offered the same level of protection as those who use
two-wheeled scooters, and may therefore be exposed to the risk of fires from single wheeled
scooters. Consumers are unable to satisfy themselves that self-balancing scooters conform
to the IEC or UL standards by visual inspection. A safety standard would reduce the impact
of this information asymmetry in the market to better protect consumers.
Option 2 – Remake the safety standard to include single wheeled selfbalancing scooters
Description
The safety standard for two-wheeled self-balancing scooters would be remade to include
single wheeled self-balancing scooters. The requirements of the standard would remain the
same.
Regulation of single wheeled self-balancing scooters in Victoria would remain under this
option.
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
Benefits
While all electrical safety regulators may eventually regulate these products in the future,
expanding the safety standard for two-wheeled self-balancing scooters to include single
wheeled self-balancing scooters will improve protection for consumers who may buy these
products in the interim.
Suppliers can continue to sell single-wheeled self-balancing scooters provided they meet the
requirements of the safety standard.
Safety standards are a proactive method of protecting consumers against hazards,
compared to reactive responses such as a voluntary or compulsory recall to reduce the risk
of fire.
Limitations
The safety standard will not improve the safety of products that consumers have already
purchased. The ACCC or electrical safety regulators can negotiate recalls where a hazard is
identified. Suppliers should have their self-balancing scooter product tested and if they find
that it does not comply and is unsafe, they need to contact the ACCC and initiate a recall.
6.
Preliminary position
The ACCC is currently of the view that Option 2 provides the greatest benefit to consumers,
suppliers and regulators. Stakeholder submissions to this consultation will assist in testing
this position.
7.
Consultation questions
1. Which policy option do you support? And why?
2. Do suppliers of single wheeled self-balancing scooters already design scooters to
conform to a voluntary standard? If so, which one?
3. What would the immediate effect of further regulation of single wheeled self-balancing
scooters be on the market? Does it differ between product types and suppliers? And why?
4. Are there alternative options not discussed in this consultation paper?
5. Are there any other issues the ACCC should consider?
6. Is the market going to change?
a. Are there products being developed that might fall outside the proposed safety standard
that should be included?
b. What other characteristics should the ACCC have regard to?
7. Do you agree with the hazards identified as risks arising from single-wheeled selfbalancing scooters? Are there other hazards not addressed in this paper?
8. Is there technology available to reduce the risk posed by these products?
9. If option 2 is implemented, what products and what proportion of existing products would
not be in compliance?
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
8.
Have your say
The ACCC invites stakeholders and interested parties to comment on these policy options.
Consultation is open from xx May to xx June 2017.
The ACCC prefers submissions via the ACCC consultation hub at consultation.accc.gov.au.
The ACCC will alert stakeholders and interested parties to the consultation through the
Product Safety Australia website productsafety.gov.au and consultation.business.gov.au
Alternatively, email submissions to productsafety.regulation@accc.gov.au or via post:
Director
Standards and Policy
Consumer Product Safety Branch
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
GPO Box 3131
CANBERRA ACT 2601
If the information you provide is of a confidential nature, we assure you that we will treat the
details you provided confidentially. That is, the ACCC will not disclose the confidential
information to third parties, other than advisors or consultants engaged directly by the
ACCC, without first providing you with notice of its intention to do so, such as where it is
compelled to do so by law. Please note that any information that you believe to be of a
confidential nature should be clearly marked or identified as confidential.
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
9.
Glossary
Term
Definition
AS/NZS
Australian/New Zealand Standard
ERAC
Australian Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council
ESV
Energy Safe Victoria
IEC
International Electrotechnical Commission
UL
Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
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Expanding the scope of the mandatory safety standard for self-balancing scooters
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