Ten companies are recalling half a million self-balancing scooters after the U.S. consumer safety watchdog found the battery packs can overheat, catch fire and explode.
The so-called hoverboards were a big hit during the past holiday season until reports of several devices catching fire raised safety concerns. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission opened an investigation in December and retailers like Amazon.com Inc. and Target Corp. temporarily stopped selling some of the brands during the height of the shopping season.
The CSPC on Wednesday said there have been at least 99 incidents of the gadgets’ battery packs overheating, sparking, smoking, catching fire or exploding–including reports of burn injuries and property damage.
The 501,000 hoverboards being recalled involve devices that don’t meet a new safety standard that governs the electrical drive train system, including the battery and charger system, for self-balancing scooters. The CSPC endorsed the standard, called UL 2272, in February, and manufacturers soon followed to make adjustments to their existing products.
“All of the hoverboard models included in this recall were made with fundamental design flaws that put people at real risk,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye. “They were made and sold without a safety standard in place.”
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The CPSC recommends consumers immediately stop using the products and return them for a full refund, a free repair or a free replacement depending on the model. The agency said mass merchandisers across the U.S., as well as online retailers, sold the devices from June 2015 through May 2016 for between $350 and $900.
More than half of the recalled hoverboards—267,000—were produced by Swagway LLC, of South Bend, Ind., which sold its Swagway X1 device at Amazon, Target and other retailers. Swagway is offering customers the option of either having a new battery pack installed onto their existing scooter or a $200 credit toward the purchase of a new model, called the Swagtron, that meets the new safety standard.
Other top producers of the products include Keenford Ltd., which recalled 84,000 units sold under the iMoto brand at Macy’s and other retailers, and Hoverboard LLC, which recalled 70,000 Powerboards sold at mall kiosks or online. Keenford is offering to exchange recalled units for a store credit, while Hoverboard is offering a replacement that meets the new standard.
Razor USA LLC, which recalled 28,000 of its Hovertrax model, stopped manufacturing the device earlier this year when the new safety standards came out. The company, which claims it has the rights to use the U.S. patents for hoverboards, is set to introduce a new version of the scooter next month.
“We made all the changes that were required and have the new version that will come out in August,” said Katherine Mahoney, Razor’s vice president of marketing. Retailers, she said, are “very eager to have the Hovertrax back in stores.”
In addition to meeting the new standards, the Hovertrax 2.0 also has a “self-leveling” feature so that the scooter aligns parallel with the ground before a rider steps on it, making getting on and off easier. It’s also $50 cheaper than the previous version, with a $449 base model and $549 deluxe option.
Paul Ziobro at Paul.Ziobro@wsj.com and Anne Steele at Anne.Steele@wsj.com