September 13: A fire that started at an electric scooter showroom in South India on Monday killed at least eight people and injured 11, Reuters reported citing the police. According to the news agency, it was the deadliest such incident involving electric vehicles in the country.
“A spate of electric scooter fires this year has alarmed the government, which is keen to promote use of such two-wheelers in its fight against pollution,” Reuters further stated. Early investigations have identified faulty battery cells and battery modules among the main causes.
The latest fire broke out late on Monday in a hotel basement housing the showroom with some two dozen electric scooters in the southern city of Secunderabad, Reuters said. Citing the local police, Reuters said that the fire has been brought under control and an investigation has been launched.
Most of the dead were occupants of the hotel, which was engulfed by smoke.
"We don't know if the fire started because of overcharging and then spread or whether it started elsewhere. That is still being established," Reuters quoted police official Chandana Deepti as saying.
The identity of the dealer and the maker of scooters being sold was not immediately clear.
According to the news report, police and firefighters used cranes and other equipment to pluck stranded hotel guests from upper floors of the four-storey building as smoke billowed out of its windows.
"Those staying on the first and second floors were overpowered by smoke and the maximum casualties are from those floors," CV Anand, the police chief of the neighbouring city of Hyderabad, told ANI.
According to Reuters, India launched an investigation over safety concerns in March after a string of e-scooter fires, including one in which a man and his daughter died when their e-bike "went up in flames".
“India wants e-scooters and e-bikes to make up 80% of total two-wheeler sales by 2030, from about 2% now.”