Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) is, in theory, a good thing. If you take away the reckless riders, it’s a pretty good thing to happen to Singaporeans.
It helps with the “last-mile” parts of a journey and encourages people to be healthier.
But now, after the entire hoo-ha about errant e-bike riders are almost over, yet another wave hit the PMD industry.
New Fire-Safety Standards Implemented by the Land Transport Authority (LTA)
Since 2016, there were more than 80 fire incidents with motorised PMDs. That’s a lot.
And the LTA is looking into making PMDs safer for everybody. By making the UL2272 safety standard a requirement in all motorised PMDs from Jan 2021.
Retailers are required to stop selling non-compliant motorised PMDs from Jul next year.
Users of non-compliant PMDs, however, are allowed to continue using them until the end of 2020.
The Ministry of Transport urges the public to get the UL2272-compliant devices as soon as possible.
Because disregarding the law, it will also lower the risk of your device catching fire in your own home.
Now, if you’re still wondering why the need for the new requirement, you might want to watch this video:
Yah, Diana Ser is still our childhood girlfriend, but you’ll also realize how dangerous these batteries are.
PMD Retailers in S’pore Not Happy
So there you are, thinking, it’s just a change to make it safer for users, why so serious?
But imagine for a moment that you are a PMD retailer. With LTA’s latest move, 90% of the PMDs in Singapore must be wiped out from the streets of Singapore, according to Mr Eugene Ng, a spokesperson for Falcon PEV, a big PMD industry player.
Most PMDs sold in Singapore were made in China, and the UL2272 safety standard is an independent US certification company.
Which means you’re not allowed to sell most, if not all, of your PMDs in Singapore. Devices that you’ve spent money getting into Singapore.
And while there’s still time to sell the PMDs before Jul 2019, who’s going to buy PMDs that’ll expire in 2 years?
The companies have to get their PMDs certified before business can continue as usual.
E-scooter Model that Meets Fire Safety Standard Sold Out Immediately
With the impending new ruling, one e-scooter model stood out:the Segway Ninebot ES2. It meets the legal requirement and retails at about $670 to $799, though it’s of course sold out.
More models that meet the requirement might come in soon, but they could cost more as getting a model to be UL2272-certified cost about $50,000 to $100,000: just imagine how many e-scooters they need to sell to cover the cost.
No doubt these costs would be passed down to the consumers, which means it’s going to get more expensive.
Retailers Aren’t Allowed To Air Their Concerns
On Thursday, 13 Sep, the LTA got PMD retailers into a meeting to discuss the new safety standards.
However, the retailers claimed that it wasn’t a discussion, but more of an information dissemination.
“The (UL2272) requirement is already set in stone, it will commence from 2021. The meeting we had was just a formality, a discussion to tell us what we have to do as retailers,” said Motocycle’s owner Leong TK.
LTA, however, said that they’ve organised a meeting back in February to discuss the new safety standards with the retailers.
Feedback was gathered back then and taken into account when they decided on this step.
The UL2272 is necessary, LTA said.
UL2272 Is “Blowing Things Out Of Proportion”
However, the retailers disagree.
While there is a need for better PMD safety standards, the UL2272 is a private certification company in the US. This means that it’s difficult to get the certification for the PMDs in Singapore, which were mostly made in China.
Not to mention, it costs more.
Moreover, the retailers argued, the cause of most fires in PMDs are due to the batteries. The UL2272 is a safety standard for the entire PMD.
That’s just “blowing things out of proportion”.
You can read the full open letter here.
LTA said they’ve studied other possible standards but deemed them insufficient for most types of motorised PMDs in Singapore.
They added that they’re open to considering other standards provided they are adequately “able to reduce fire risks for motorised PMD, and are suitable for our local context.”
So, if you own a PMD, just know that it’s going to be illegal in 2021.
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