Over 7 million Brits set to purchase an e-bike or e-scooter this year as charity warns consumers to shop safely

22 July 2020

Findings come as e-scooter public rental schemes are rolled out across the country, with more than 1 in 5 set to take part

A post-lockdown UK is set to see millions turn to personal electric transport through e-bikes and e-scooters, a Charity reveals.

A new survey by consumer safety Charity Electrical Safety First reveals that almost 1 in 7 UK adults are planning on purchasing an e-bike or e-scooter this year - the equivalent of more than 7 million people.[1]

However, the Charity is warning consumers to only purchase products and chargers from reputable retailers to avoid substandard and dangerous imitations.

E-bikes and e-scooters are almost all powered by lithium ion batteries, charged from the mains outlet in a property. Substandard versions can have explosive consequences, leading to fire and injury.

Several previous Electrical Safety First investigations have found dangerous electrical products for sale via online marketplaces, prompting concerns that the increased interest in e-scooters and e-bikes will result in a proliferation of dangerous electrical goods.[2] Further research from the Charity finds that 1 in 3 of us would purchase a battery charging pack for their e-bike or e-scooter from an online marketplace[3], leaving consumers vulnerable to substandard and dangerous imitations.

The survey comes as the Government encourages the public to return to work with many looking to avoid public transport as lockdown eases across the country. Electrical Safety First found more than 1 in 5 plan to take advantage of the upcoming public rental e-scooters trial schemes.[4]

Privately owned e-bikes are legal to ride on UK roads, but a recently introduced Government trial scheme for e-scooters allows the public to hire e-scooters to be used on roads. Privately purchased e-scooters are still only legal for use on private land – 13% of Brits say they currently have an e-scooter or e-bike of their own.[5]

As the Government launches  its green recovery strategy in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, a clear focus on electric travel has become a prominent part of plans to reduce the country’s carbon emissions.

25 to 34 year olds are more likely than any other age group to purchase an e-bike or scooter this year, whilst nearly double the number of male respondents intended to make the purchase versus women.[6]

Respondents in or close to Birmingham (18%) and Cardiff (18%) are more likely to purchase than other cities in the UK. By contrast, less than 7% of respondents in Norwich plan to purchase an e-bike or e-scooter.[7]

Electrical Safety First is warning consumers who are planning to purchase an e-bike or e-scooter this year to only do so from reputable retailers, and to avoid purchasing from third party sellers. This applies to accessories such as chargers and battery packs as well as the products themselves.

Martyn Allen, Technical Director at Electrical Safety First commented “As personal transport evolves, we are becoming increasingly dependent on electricity and consumers should be cautious of the risks involved. Items such as e-bikes and e-scooters are powered by lithium ion batteries and will be required to charge for long periods of time. Substandard versions of these batteries can pose a serious risk to life if a fault occurs.

Where you purchase your batteries and charger packs is just as important as the bike or scooter itself. With so many set to make the purchase of an electric bike or scooter this year, consumers should exercise caution about whom they are buying from.”


E-bikes are classed as electrically assisted pedal cycles. The electric motor attached to the bike helps to give the rider a boost when on the move.

Electric scooters are motor propelled vehicles where the rider uses a electric motor to move around. No pedal assistance is required to operate. E-scooters are currently not considered as electrically assisted pedal cycles in the same way e-bikes are. At present e-scooters are legally viewed as motor vehicles.

There are distinct differences in the law when it comes to where and how you can ride your e-bike versus your e-scooter. E-bikes are legally considered “electrical assisted pedal cycles”. You do not need a driving licence or insurance to ride an e-bike and both public hire and privately purchased e-bikes can be used on UK roads and cycle highways.

In contrast e-scooters are currently legally viewed as motor vehicles. Privately purchased e-scooters are unlawful for use on UK roads or pavements and at present are only permitted for use on private land. Public hire rental e-scooters are now legal for use on UK roads as part of the Government trial rental scheme and users must hold full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped license to use the vehicles.  


  • Only use the charger supplied by the manufacturer and never leave your electric scooter charged unattended.
  • If there are no instructions on charging supplied with the product, do not use it.
  • Don’t leave your electric scooter in very hot or very cold conditions, instead leave it in a cool dark place.
  • Check the charger and battery for any possible signs of damage. If you notice anything of concern do not attempt to use it.


  • Only ever purchase an e-bike or e-scooter from a reputable retailer you know and trust.
  • Avoid purchasing electrical items and their corresponding battery packs and chargers from third party sellers online.
  • Look out for errors such as spelling mistakes, missing warranty cards or missing instruction manuals. These are all signs the product could be substandard.



  • If you suspect you have a substandard e-bike, e-scooter or battery charging pack stop using it immediately and contact both the manufacturer and Trading Standards.

Notes to editors:

  • Electrical Safety First is a UK Charity dedicated to reducing and preventing damage, injuries and death caused by electricity. More information can be found at electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk
  • Consumer research was conducted via the survey group, Censuswide with a sample of 3,002 adults across the UK, nationally representative of the general population. Research was conducted in the field between 26.06.2020 to 30.06.2020

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[1] Research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Electrical Safety First whereby 3,002 adults across the UK were asked the question ‘Are you planning on purchasing an e-scooter or e-bike this year?’, to which 13.9% answered ‘yes’

[2] For previous investigations from Electrical Safety First into dangerous goods online marketplaces, see https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/

[3] Aforementioned consumer research found that 33.7% of respondents selected ‘An online marketplace (e.g. Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Wish, Facebook marketplace)’ when asked the question ‘E-bikes and e-scooters are powered by lithium ion batteries which are charged via the mains outlet in your home. If you had an e-bike or e-scooter, and it needed a new charger pack and you saw one available for purchase, where would you be happy to buy one from?’

[4] Aforementioned consumer research found 21.8% of respondents answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do you expect to take advantage of the governments upcoming trials of rental e-scooters for use on UK roads?’

[5] Aforementioned consumer research found 12.8% of respondents answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do you currently own a rechargeable e-scooter or e-bike?’

[6] Aforementioned consumer research found that 23.4% of respondents aged 25-34 answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘Are you planning on purchasing an e-scooter or e-bike this year?’, while 18.3% of male (compared to 9.7% of female) respondents answered ‘yes’

[7] As above – 18.2% of respondents in or close to Birmingham, 18.1% of respondents in or close to Cardiff and 6.8% of those in or close to Norwich answered ‘yes’