After eight years of being available to thrillseekers and those who feel just a single wheel satisfies their transportation needs, Future Motion’s Onewheel self-balancing electric skateboards are facing calls for a full recall from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This comes after four reported deaths over the past three years, and several serious injuries.
The Onewheel debuted in 2014 after a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and provided a faster and safer alternative to the popular two-wheeled hoverboards at the time, at least when it came to rechargeable batteries that didn’t spontaneously catch fire. With price tags that currently range in price from $1,050 to over $2,000, Future Motion, the company behind the Onewheel, didn’t cheap out on batteries, but concerns have been raised about the electric skateboard’s self-balancing technology: a critical component given the devices roll around on just a single wheel, with some models hitting a top speed of 19 miles per hour.
Earlier this year, Future Motion cooperated with the CPSC and issued a recall for 20,000 units of its Onewheel GT model that exhibited a problem with the device’s front footpad. When the rider steps off the Onewheel GT, the front footpad is supposed to detect that and automatically disengage the board, but the company received 813 reports that the footpad wasn’t working properly, causing the boards to continue to operate after the rider dismounted, leading to several injuries. More details about that recall, including how to know if your model is affected, and how to replace the footpad, are available on Future Motion’s website.
But the CPSC is now warning consumers to stop using and stop buying all Onewheel models entirely, due to the risk of serious injury and potentially even death. The commission says it has “...evaluated the Onewheel products and found that they can cause the rider to be ejected from the product, which can result in serious injury or death to the rider.” To date, there have been several reported injuries—including traumatic brain injuries, concussions, paralysis, and fractures—and at least four reported deaths resulting from head trauma “...after the product failed to balance the rider or suddenly stopped while in motion.”
Despite the concerns raised by the CPSC, “Future Motion has refused to agree to an acceptable recall of the product.” However, the safety commission says it will continue to pursue a recall in an attempt to protect consumers and prevent future incidents with the boards.
Update - November 16, 3:32pm EST: Future Motion released a follow-up statement today calling the CPSC’s statements on the Onewheel devices “unjustified and alarmist.” You can read the company’s official response in its entirety here.