Ola Electric recalls over 1,400 e-scooters in India after one catches on fire

ola electric scooters
FILE PHOTO: A man checks his mobile phone as he waits while recharging his Ola electric scooter at an electric vehicle charging station in New Delhi, India, February 12, 2022. REUTERS/Aditi Shah//File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Softbank-backed Ola Electric said on Sunday it will recall 1,441 of its electric scooters, weeks after one of its vehicles caught fire, prompting a government probe into the incident.

Scooters involving Indian start-ups Okinawa and PureEV have also been involved in fires, in what some say could be an early setback for a nascent sector that is key to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s carbon reduction and climate goals.

India launched an investigation into the fires last month, and formed a committee of experts to make recommendations on remedial steps. Okinawa recalled 3,215 vehicles this month.

“We will be conducting a detailed diagnostics and health check of the scooters in that specific batch and therefore are issuing a voluntary recall of 1,441 vehicles,” Ola Electric said in a statement on Sunday.

India wants electric scooters and motorbikes to make up 80% of total two-wheeler sales by 2030, compared with about 2% today, and Modi’s administration is offering companies billions of dollars in incentives to make EVs locally.

Ola Electric said it supported an EV safety policy, and a preliminary assessment of one of its vehicles catching fire revealed the incident was an isolated one, adding that the recalls were a “pre-emptive measure.”

One of India’s most popular startups, Ola Electric began selling its electric scooters last year. It produces 1,000 scooters a day, leaving it far off a planned initial target of building two million a year.

The company is best known in India for it ride-hailing cab service, which rivals Uber Technologies. Ola Electric is valued at around $5 billion.

The issue of e-scooter safety has not been limited to India. Last month, Reuters reported that four insurance trade bodies in the UK wrote a letter to transport minister Grant Shapps calling for clear standards on e-scooter construction and safety equipment, including on batteries, charging, brakes and lighting, and on whether protective equipment is required.

The e-scooters’ lithium batteries posed a fire risk and their transportation and storage should also be regulated, the trade bodies said.

(By Aditi Shah; Writing by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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