How to be cautious with EV batteries

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Electric vehicles (EVs) of all kinds are becoming increasingly popular around the world. Statistics Canada reports that, in 2023, zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) accounted for just over 1 in 10 (10.8%) of all new motor vehicle registrations − almost 50% higher than 2022 and a 115% increase compared to 2021.

Four-wheeled EVs aren’t the only type of transportation gaining in popularity. E-bikes and e-scooters are equally ubiquitous − some Canadian cities and provinces are even adding or expanding e-bike and e-scooter fleets available for public use.

With the rise in interest in EVs of all stripes, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with the lithium-ion batteries that power the vehicle.

What should you know about lithium-ion batteries?

There is a growing trend of spontaneous fires associated with lithium-ion batteries, particularly in e-bikes or e-scooters. Canadian Underwriter reports that, in the US, e-scooters have been the focus of regulatory scrutiny following fires caused by their batteries, including one that claimed two lives in a Brooklyn, NY apartment. A Vancouver woman is suing several makers of e-bikes and e-scooters after an apartment fire in 2022 that she alleges was ignited by the lithium-ion power cell in an e-bike.

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs warn that lithium-ion batteries used to power EVs, as well as e-bikes, laptops, cell phones and other electronics are more easily damaged than other types of batteries and can explode or burst into flames when damaged or improperly used through a process called thermal runaway.

Ken McMullen, president of the organization, told CTV News that the resulting fires are “extremely aggressive and volatile in the sense that it happens very quickly.”

With these safety concerns, it's essential for drivers to be cautious when using lithium-ion batteries and vehicle equipment.

What should you do to minimize the risks associated with EV batteries?

There are a number of actions you can take to protect yourself, your vehicle, and your home from the inherent risks associated with lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. Here are some EV battery safety tips:

1.  Buy EV products from reputable companies

While most EVs and batteries are sourced and sold responsibly, it is possible to buy products that have been cobbled together from a variety of sources. For example, the original battery may have been replaced with a different brand or size, or a DIYer may have created a Franken-EV with a variety of parts and a lithium-ion battery. When purchasing an e-scooter or e-bike, ask to see the manufacturers’ warranty or other paperwork to ensure the battery was produced by a reputable company.

2.  Avoid after-market batteries

Not all EVs have the same battery charging systems. It’s important to use the charging system that was designed for the specific make and model of EV you have purchased. A cheaper, after-market version of a battery charging system may be functional, but it can also be dangerous and create a safety risk.

When internal wiring components aren’t exact, it can lead to short circuits, overheating and, potentially, spontaneous fire.

3.  Charge lithium-ion batteries with care

Thermal runaway is the rapid increase of battery cell temperature and pressure that can catch fire when accompanied by the release of flammable gas. This can happen spontaneously in lithium-ion batteries but there’s a higher risk when an EV is charging for an extended period of time.

Some tips on charging an electric vehicle safely:

  • Avoid charging an electric vehicle battery overnight or unattended.
  • Set a timer for the manufacturers’ recommended charging duration and unplug the battery charger when finished.
  • Get a battery monitoring system that will shut off the EV charger when there’s a full charge or if the temperature or pressure rises.
  • Charge and store your EV batteries outdoors, if possible.

For more information on how to use lithium-ion batteries safely, review the National Fire Protection Association’s lithium-ion battery safety tip sheet.

Want to learn more about EV batteries?

Aviva Risk Management Solutions has professional risk consultants across Canada to provide our customers with expert advice and resources regarding safety. Reach out to us at



Statistics Canada

Electric Autonomy Canada: Where are electric bikes and e-scooters available in Canada this summer?

Canadian Underwriter: Lithium-ion batteries leading to deadly fires – and lawsuits

CTV News: Lithium-ion battery fires on the rise across Canada, fire chiefs warn

National Fire Protection Association’s

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