Amidst growing cases of electric vehicles catching fire, Ola’s CEO appears to be hinting that these incidents aren’t a bug — they might just be a feature.
Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal has highlighted the case of a Tata Nexon electric car catching fire, weeks after an Ola electric scooter had caught fire as well. “In case you missed it Hormazd Sorabjee,” he tweeted, tagging an auto journalist who had been critical of Ola’s electric scooters in the past, and had raised questions about whether they were safe for users. “EV fires will happen. Happens in all global products too. EV fires are much less frequent than ICE fires,” he added.
Aggarwal’s remarks came after a Tata Nexon EV had caught fire in the Vasai West locality of Mumbai. Tata Nexon said that it was investigating the case, and added it was its first-ever such incident. ““This is a first incident after more than 30,000 EVs have cumulatively covered over 100 million km across the country in nearly 4 years,” Tata said in a statement.
But there has been no shortage of electric scooter fires in recent months — a few months prior, an Ola electric scooter had caught fire in Pune, and the visuals had gone viral on social media. Other companies including, Okinawa, Pure EV, and even Ather have seen their scooters be involved in thermal incidents, some of which have proved fatal. The government had even instituted an enquiry into the repeated cases of electric scooters catching fire, and several manufacturers, including Ola, have recalled scooters for additional tests.
Bhavish Aggarwal, though, insists that electric vehicles are much less likely to catch fire than their conventional counterparts. Aggarwal didn’t share a source or data to back his claim, but instead chose to highlight a case of a Tata electric vehicle catching fire. It’s a bold strategy — Aggarwal is highlighting a case of a trusted car manufacturer’s electric car catching fire in a bid to show that all EVs are susceptible to fire incidents, but the tactic could backfire as well. Putting more focus on electric vehicle fires wouldn’t help the EV industry, and could cause even more concern among potential customers. And Aggarwal’s assertion that EVs “will catch fire” might not exactly reassure first-time buyers, who’re looking to experiment with an electric vehicle for their daily commutes.