There had been hushed whispers that Ola hadn’t released a fully built product when it had launched its S1 Pro electric scooter — many of the features the company had mentioned in its marketing materials weren’t available, its range wasn’t what had been initially claimed, and reviewers had found several bugs in their test vehicles. But there will now be renewed questions on just how unfinished Ola’s scooter might have been.
An Ola Electric scooter appears to have spontaneously caught fire in the Lohegaon area of Pune. Several videos have now appeared of the incident, which show a blue Ola Electric S1 emitting small bits of smoke while it’s parked. An small explosion is then seen at the base of the scooter, and the scooter bursts into flames. Within seconds, the scooter is covered in five-foot high flames, as people nearby rush to take cover.
Another angle of the incident showed the scooter burning and engulfed in flames.
Ola had said that it had been informed about the accident. “We are aware of an incident in Pune that happened with one of our scooters and are investigating to understand the root cause and will share more updates in the next few days,” the company said in a statement to ETAuto. “We’re in constant touch with the customer who is absolutely safe. 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.”
This isn’t the first time that electric scooters have caught fire in India. In September last year, two scooters from Pure EV had caught fire, followed by another scooter from Okinawa in October. In December, another scooter from Manesar-based HCD India had caught fire while being charged, leading to the death of a 60 year old man.
But Ola is the buzziest electric scooter manufacturer at the moment, having come up with an electric scooter that — at least on paper — claimed to provide superior features at a cheaper price point. Ola had also bet big on its scooter, saying that it was setting up the world’s largest two-wheeler factory in Tamil Nadu which would produce 1 crore electric scooters every year. Ola has also run a splashy marketing campaign for its scooters featuring slick videos, and songs by rappers.
But an Ola scooter catching fire in dramatic fashion will likely give potential customers pause — electric vehicles have many benefits, including better acceleration, cheaper running costs, and cool new features, but getting a vehicle that spontaneously combusts will be more than what most users would’ve bargained for. More than a decade ago, the ambitious Tata Nano project had been dealt a death blow when a car had caught fire, and the video had been widely shared. With an Ola Electric scooter now catching fire in much same way, Ola will need to do some serious damage control to ensure that its electric plans don’t similarly go up in smoke.