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Alarming: Two Electric Buses Spontaneously Explode, Entire Fleet Taken Off the Road in City

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Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

A state-owned public transport operator in Paris, France, the Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, pulled out 149 electric buses from its fleet after two of them spontaneously exploded within the same month.

The RATP decided to temporarily retire the electric vehicles after the second explosion occurred around 9 a.m. on April 29 near the François Mitterrand Library, according to reporting from the local newspaper Le Parisien and a RATP news release.

Footage of the bus engulfed in flames in Paris’s 13th arrondissement was widely circulated on social media.

A video by VIXX compiling the viral videos showed smoke emanating from the top of the bus, where the battery is located. The smoke gave way to an explosion and a shower of sparks that covered the vehicle’s mid-section and nearby areas.

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Flames eventually engulfed the electric vehicle, and the ravaging inferno gave rise to tall columns of thick black smoke visible from surrounding areas, the video showed. The air was filled with the smell of burning plastic.

Fortunately, there were no casualties due to the fire. The bus driver was able to get out, the arrondissement’s mayor Jérôme Coumet confirmed.

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Firefighters promptly responded to the incident. Authorities closed the nearby metro station from 9 am to 11 am to help them put out the blazing inferno, Le Figaro reported.

The bus that was engulfed in flames on April 29 and the one that caught fire earlier that month both belonged to the Bluebus 5SE series of the brand Bolloré, according to the RATP.

The RATP has requested the manufacturer to carry out a full investigation to explain the causes of the fire and provide the RATP with an action plan to bring the electric buses safely back into operation.

The two fires in Paris and similar incidents worldwide have raised concerns about the safety of electric vehicles amid a push toward making them replace those running on fossil fuels by activists and lawmakers.

The government of India last month urged electric motorcycle companies operating in the country to carry out voluntary recalls of their products.

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The country’s authorities did so to ensure electric motorcycles were safe for consumers after a series of electric scooters caught fire in the country, the Indian newspaper The Hindu reported.

“Lithium has a natural affinity for fires,’’ Amit Das, the founder of the Indian multi-brand electric vehicle store chain Electric One, said, according to the Business Standard. Lithium is a common element in electric vehicle batteries.

Battery fires in electric vehicles, according to Forbes, can happen due to two reasons.

One is a car crash that damages individual cells in the battery, which can eventually lead to a fire engulfing other cells and subsequently the entire automobile. This, according to Forbes, was the issue with early Teslas. The other reason is manufacturing defects.

Besides safety concerns, electric vehicles face other sets of problems, such as governments adding new taxes to compensate for revenue losses that came with incentives given to motorists for switching from gas-powered vehicles to electric ones.

On top of that are ethical concerns that arise due to the nature of the process of mining raw materials to make electric vehicles and the emissions involved therein.

UPDATE, July 29, 2022: Online insurance broker AutoInsuranceEZ.com researched auto fires by type of car using data from the National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Recalls.gov and concluded “that despite the focus on EV fires in the news, they are not inherently more dangerous than gas or hybrid vehicles, although electric fires tend to be more difficult than gas fires to extinguish.”

Perhaps more importantly, the independent, nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute in a study of “electric and conventional versions of nine models from 2011 to 2019” concluded that electric vehicles may be considered significantly safer than similar conventional models because “rates of injury claims related to the drivers and passengers of electric vehicles were more than 40 percent lower than for identical conventional models over 2011-19. This result is similar to an earlier HLDI study of hybrid vehicles, and one likely explanation is that the large batteries used in both types of vehicles make them substantially heavier than their conventional counterparts. Occupants of heavier vehicles are exposed to lower forces in multivehicle crashes.”

The Western Journal is adding this information to this story as important context regarding the safety of electric vehicles in general.

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News reporter and international affairs analyst published and syndicated in over 100 national and international outlets, including The National Interest, The Daily Caller, and The Western Journal. Covers international affairs, security, and U.S. politics. Master of Arts in Security Policy Studies candidate at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs
News reporter and international affairs analyst published and syndicated in over 100 national and international outlets, including The National Interest, The Daily Caller, and The Western Journal. Covers international affairs, security, and U.S. politics. Master of Arts in Security Policy Studies candidate at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. Follow Andrew on Twitter: @RealAndrewJose
Education
Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service
Location
Washington, District of Columbia
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish, Tamil, Hindi, French, Russian
Topics of Expertise
International Politics, National Security, U.S. Politics




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