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Ola S1 Electric Scooter Catches Fire In Pune, Raises Concerns On EV Safety

Ola S1 Electric Scooter Catches Fire In Pune, Raises Concerns On EV Safety

In an unverified tweet posted on March 26 an Ola Electric scooter could be seen catching fire

Ola Electric said it is aware of such an incident and are investigating to understand the root cause

“We take this incident seriously and will take appropriate action and share more in the coming days,” the startup said

An Ola Electric scooter caught fire while parked at the roadside in Pune, Maharashtra. In an unverified tweet posted on March 26, an Ola electric scooter could be seen in plumes of smoke, which ultimately led to the scooter catching fire. As per the tweet, it could be an Ola S1 or Ola S1 Pro scooter.

Bhavish Aggarwal-led Ola Electric said that it is aware of “an incident” that happened with one of its scooters and are investigating to understand the root cause and will share more updates in the next few days.

“We’re in constant touch with the customer who is absolutely safe,” said the startup. “Vehicle safety is of paramount importance at Ola and we are committed to the highest quality standards in our products. We take this incident seriously and will take appropriate action and share more in the coming days,” Ola said. 

To clarify the difference, Ola S1 Pro is the flagship higher-end model from the company, while the S1 is a base model scooter.

This is not the first Ola Electric has caught media attention for malfunctioning of its scooters. 

An Ola S1 user had previously posted about  Ola S1 electric scooter accidentally going into reverse mode at a speed of 102 kmph.

Also, this is not the first incident when an electric vehicle (EV) has caught fire in India. In fact, leave alone India, such cases have been reported globally, with top EV names such as Elon Musk’s Tesla or General Motors’ Bolt cars catching fire. These incidents have repeatedly questioned the testing process and safety levels of EVs.

In 2021, an incident was reported in Hyderabad when an ePluto scooter built by EV startup Pure EV was also seen in flames. Following two such instances in ePluto scooters, which had also gone viral on social media, Pure EV had reportedly notified its stakeholders that it was open to detailed set of guidelines on production, storage and application of lithium ion batteries in EVs. 

Ola S1 and S1 Pro electric scooters were launched last year and have been repeatedly called out for several issues including delayed deliveries. At the time customers were reporting about Ola Electric’s mechanical issues, problems with its build quality, and more on social media platforms.

In January this year, CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said that all S1 customers will receive S1 Pro hardware with the possibility of unlocking it after paying a performance upgrade fee, instead of calling it a delay. Since its launch in September 2021, Ola claims to have sold $150 Mn worth of electric scooters. 

Ola Electric has also been raising funds. The startup completed its $200 Mn round at a valuation of $5 Bn in January, which saw the participation of Tekne Private Ventures, Alpine Opportunity Fund, and Edelweiss, among others.

Ola Electric was also set to receive incentives under the government’s $2.4 Bn PLI Scheme, as per last week’s report.

However, after today’s incident of its vehicle catching fire, it is yet to see how the investors and the government respond to the incident and deal with it as it once again raises a crucial question about EV safety.