Ola S1 Pro electric scooter catches fire: where, what happened, Ola’s response

A 31-second live video of an Ola S1 Pro model in Pune shows the electric scooter catching fire on a busy street. Here's what happened.

Highlights
  • Ola S1 Pro caught fire in Pune in a horrifying incident
  • The scooter possibly suffered from a thermal runaway
  • Ola said it is looking into the incident and the reason behind the fire

An Ola S1 Pro electric scooter caught fire in Pune on Saturday in a horrifying incident. The incident was brought into the spotlight on Twitter. The owner shared a 31-second live video of Ola S1 Pro parked in roadside ways catching fire on a busy street. Ola is stature in the market as the best-funded startup in the industry. This isn’t the first time we are hearing about such an incident. Previously, we have come across one such incident where an electric scooter caught fire in Mumbai. Let’s look at what happened with the Ola S1 Pro and what the company said in response.

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What happened? 

In most cases, if an electric vehicle catches fire it is typically because the battery exploded due to the poor quality of lithium-ion cells used in the machine or an ineffective battery management system. EV batteries are not manufactured in India, and most companies have to source them from South Korea, Taiwan, China, and Japan manufacturies. Ola purchases lithium-ion cells from LG Chem in Korea.

When a lithium-ion battery is broken or short-circuited, thermal runaway occurs. Thermal runaway is an uncontrollable, extremely flammable reaction. It is tough to extinguish a lithium-ion battery after catching fire. The burning battery produces hydrogen gas and lithium-hydroxide when it comes into contact with water. The hydrogen gas makes it hard for one to extinguish the fire because of the extreme flammability nature of the hydrogen gas.

As of now, it is unclear what caused the Ola S1 Pro to catch fire in Pune.

Ola’s response

Ola is looking into the root cause and will share more updates in the next few days. The company intends to take appropriate action for this incident.

In a statement to ETAuto, Ola said, “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. 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.”

Commenting on the incident, an industry insider told ETAuto, “This is utterly shocking. We had heard reports that Ola was rushing through some protocols in product development but we never thought they would be negligent in batteries. This can be very damaging for the industry as a whole. Ola would need to answer a lot of things.”