By Peter HolleyOctober 30th at 10:40 pm
Lime, one of the country's largest electric car makers, pulled thousands of its scooters off the road this summer when it found out that some of them may have batteries that could burn, according to company officials.
The company said in a statement Wednesday that it was experiencing a risk in August that a "manufacturing defect" on some of its scooters "could cause the battery to smolder or in some cases catch fire."
The statement came in response to questions from The Washington Post to Limes' scooters. Although company officials said in an interview that Lime recalled around 2,000 scooters, they said that the risk of smoldering and burning only persisted in a tiny percentage of cases. The company said it had removed the much larger number of roads with great caution.
"All susceptible scooters were quickly phased out and had minimal impact on service in our Los Angeles, San Diego and Lake Tahoe markets," the company said in the statement. "At no time were riders or members of the population at risk."
At the same time, the company acknowledged that it could face continuing challenges. He said it had received an unconfirmed report that another scooter model he was using might "also be susceptible to battery failure."
An unrelated topic is to investigate if some of his scooters "can sometimes break if repeatedly mistreated." The company said it is possible that these scooters "crack or break when ridden off a curb at high speed. "
Prior to Lime's statement on Wednesday, some employees internally expressed concerns as to whether the company had taken enough safety risks with its scooters, according to a lime mechanic and commented on the condition of anonymity as the employee still works for the company. The mechanic provided images of internal Slack messages in which another employee also raises concerns.
"I think these scoots or the product as a whole should be taken off the market until they are safe to use and to handle," the other employee in the "Mechanics" room wrote. "I understand that the scooters are expendable and interchangeable, but have we stepped down to say the same for employee and customer safety?"
On one occasion, the Lake Tahoe Fire Department was called to the company's Lake Tahoe facility in August after a scooter burst into flames, according to a departmental report.
Like many of his rivals, Lime has been driving through the country in recent months, parking his vehicles in dozens of cities. Scooter startups have become powerful forces at the local level, forcing city authorities to rewrite the rules with the promise of valuable data exchange and less traffic.
However, critics say rapid company growth is expensive. Emergency physicians have reported that serious injuries – including head injuries and broken bones – have increased since electric scooters surfaced on roads across the country. Critics have expressed concern that some scooter manufacturers have not properly maintained their vehicles. Most of them were intended for personal use, but not for the general public.
In response to the criticism, the scooter industry has emphasized that safety is a top priority and that cars cause far more fatalities and injuries than scooters.
"Scooters are a new means of transport, and Lime continues to work with the micromobility industry to make sure everyone knows how to drive safely," Lime said in the statement.
Lime said the battery issues involved a brand made by the mobility company Segway Ninebot. (Segway did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.) Lime said some of the welding work around the battery could be flawed, resulting in battery short-circuiting.
External suitcases containing the batteries of the lime motor scooter often suffer damage when vehicles hit the ground and collide with objects. Tim Ellis, a metallurgical engineer whose company RSR Technologies specializes in battery recycling, said he could not make a decision without directly inspecting the battery. He said that a lithium-ion battery could become more susceptible to fire due to damage.
"Anything you mechanically juggle, vibrate, beat, or bump into is going to increase the chance of failure," Ellis said. "The box in which the battery is located looks very heavy. This suggests that it can do a lot of damage, but at some level, everything collapses. "
Within the company, some employees have been worried about the safety of their products for months.
In an interview, the lime mechanic described the fear of having feared with managers that the people who paid Lime to recharge scooters in their homes overnight – so-called "juicers" – are unaware of the fire hazard.
The clerk cited an internal slack message to The Post, in which a manager of Lime instructed an employee to fetch a "codrot" scooter – an abbreviation for the scooters with a broken battery – from a juicer home in August. When the juicer refused to hand over the vehicle, the manager told the staff "to warn him that it was urgent," but did not mention the risk of fire.
"These people lock these scooters into their house at night and go to sleep because they think they're safe and that they only earned $ 15," the employee said. "When I asked my managers if we would tell them that everything I got shrugged their shoulders and" I do not know. "
Lime did not comment on the mechanic's claim, but said in his own statement that Segway Ninebot scooters will only be available in Lime's "scooter storage facilities" and "will no longer be available for juicers for recharge hours." The company said it is also charging global charging around the clock, and employees are being trained in handling these batteries.
The only known case in which a lime scooter caused a fire was at the company's Lake Tahoe plant on August 27th. When the fire department arrived, a blazing electric scooter had been blown up with a fire extinguisher and parked in a back parking lot. according to incident report of the fire department.
The vehicle was still smoking, the battery kept burning, the report says, the smoke filling the air with a sharp chemical stench.
A night employee told investigators that the fire started with a "loud bang" and asked the employee to go to a "scooter repair room" where he saw "flares from the battery compartment of a scooter and an adjoining chair" incident report.
The fire prompted the fire department to tell the company that all scooters that were suspected to be defective had been parked in the parking lot to make sure there was no scooter inside the building. "