Electric utopia takes a deadly U-turn
Electric vehicles have been pushed hard as a solution to the world’s faux climate emergency, but in India they have turned into killing machines. Many EV bikes and scooters have been bursting into flames across the country. The frequency of such incidents has increased considerably since spring 2022.
In my home state of Tamil Nadu, a man and his daughter were killed when their EV scooter caught fire. You might think it as a one-off incident, but that is not the case.
In March, an EV bike (from the brand Ola) parked in a busy commercial area caught fire. A Twitter user shared a video where the vehicle can be seen consumed by the fire from its lithium-ion battery and circuits. Another video from Chennai (formerly known as Madras), shows an EV scooter of the same brand going up in flames, the fourth such incident in the city in as many days.
A stern warning of penalties has been issued by the government.
“Several mishaps involving electric two wheelers have come to light in last two months,” said Indian Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. “It is most unfortunate that some people have lost their lives and several have been injured in these incidents…. We will soon issue quality-centric guidelines for electric vehicles. If any company is found negligent in their processes, a heavy penalty will be imposed and a recall of all defective vehicles will also be ordered… Companies may take advance action to recall all defective batches of vehicles immediately.”
While some EV makers have responded to the warning, local law enforcement has filed charges against others. PURE EV, one of the many brands afflicted by fires, was booked by the Nizamabad police for negligence and safety for life after an explosion killed a person and injured two others.
“In view of the recent fire incidents involving our vehicles in Nizamabad and Chennai, PURE EV has decided to recall 2,000 vehicles from the models ETrance Plus and EPluto7G of the concerned batches,” the company said in a statement.
Okinawa Autotech -- a best-seller in India -- recalled 3,215 of its EV scooters. But that did not stop the subsequent massive explosion and fire that engulfed an entire showroom full of its products. Elsewhere, an Okinawa EV scooter caught fire while the vehicle was being ridden.
Last month, 20 electric scooters from Jitendra EV caught fire as they were being transported in a truck.
Some suggest that these fires could be due to extreme summer heat in India. However, the problem is not exclusive to tropical regions.
In Paris, the use of 149 electric buses was suspended after two caught fire. Dramatic footage shows buses in a ball of fire, a sight that would make any municipality inclined to withdraw such vehicles from fleets.
Some underground parking lots in Germany are banning electric and hybrid cars for obvious reasons. Often, lithium-ion battery fires are difficult to extinguish because the addition of water produces hydrogen and lithium-hydroxide, increasing the intensity of the blaze.
“In the future, electric and hybrid cars will no longer be allowed to park in the underground car park,” said Michael Kuhnlein from the civil engineering department… The fire brigade cannot extinguish such vehicles; they have to let them burn out.”
So to the longstanding concerns about inhumane conditions of mining lithium and other minerals for EV production, we add the direct threat that EVs pose to users and the general public. We are killing people in reaction to the irrational hysteria of a climate cult.
Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Va., and holds a Master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, England. He resides in Bengaluru, India.