Less than two weeks after a Tesla Model S hit the headlines after a collision with metallic debris on a Washington freeway caused the front part of its battery pack to catch on fire, the spectre of EV fires is back in the news yet again.
This time, the subject of the fire isn’t an expensive luxury sedan but two Bolloré Bluecars, the erstwhile workhorses on which Paris’s Autolib car sharing service is built. Like the Tesla fire however, there’s more behind the fire than would first appear.
As The Local reports, the two cars, which were parked one behind the other at official Autolib docking stations in eastern Paris were destroyed at around 9am on Monday morning. But while one car is said to have gone ‘up in smoke,’ another was said to have literally exploded.
“I was on my way to work, when there were explosions like fireworks in one of the cars,” an eyewitness told The Local. “A fire then took hold of a second car. Fireman were not able to get near the blaze because of the traffic jams.”
At first glance, the explosion and fire of two electric cars parked side by side, charging, may sound like more bad news for EVs. But as with many other horror stories of EVs burning, signs point to there being a reason other than electrical failure to explain the destruction of both cars: vandalism
For more than a year, the Autolib service, which currently has some 4,000 electric cars located throughout France’s capital city, has been the victim of ongoing vandalism. Since the service launched in October 2011, an estimated 25 cars out of the total fleet of 4,00 have been damaged by vandalism. Moreover, many of those vandalised were subjected to fire damage.
With seating for four, a 30 kilowatt-hour lithium metal polymer battery pack, a top speed of 68 mph (110 kph) and a range of between 90 and 150 miles depending on road type and conditions, the Boloré Bluecar was designed exclusively for the Autolib car sharing service by renowned Italian automotive design house Pininfarina.
According to The Local, Bloré, the company behind the Bluecar and the Autolib system, has said that the source of the explosion which destroyed the first car on Monday came from outside the vehicle, while Le Figaro, a popular French newspaper, reports that there was no indication of ‘abnormal heat’ coming from the car’s battery pack before the fires. In other words, the cause of the fire is highly unlikely to have been vehicle-based.
At the time of writing, a formal police investigation is under way into the fires, and the remainder of the Autolib fleet are continuing operation as normal. Until investigations are complete, we won’t know the true reason for the explosion and subsequent fire, but for now, it certainly looks as if Paris’ highly-popular car sharing service is either an easy target for vandals, or has upset a lone pyromaniac with a distaste for electric cars.
Of course, like any story, we’ll bring you updates and and when they happen.
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