Paris suspends entire electric bus fleet in wake of fires

·1-min read

Dozens of electric buses will be taken off the streets of the French capital temporarily "as a precaution" after two of the vehicles caught fire, public transport operator RATP announced on Friday.

Following a second blaze on Friday morning, in which no one was hurt, "RATP has taken the decision to suspend use of 149 electric buses" of manufacturer Bolloré's Bluebus 5SE model, the state-owned company said.

The number 71 bus that caught fire in south-east Paris early Friday released thick clouds of black smoke and a strong smell of burning plastic, according to a journalist at the scene.

"The bus driver immediately evacuated all the passengers. Nobody was hurt," RATP said, while the city fire service said the blaze was put out by around 30 firefighters.

A first bus caught fire on the Boulevard Saint-Germain in central Paris on 4 April, destroying the vehicle but again causing no injuries.

Bluebus is part of the sprawling empire of French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, whose interests range from transport and logistics to media. Bolloré's companies generate around 24 billion euros each year in revenue, and have 80,000 employees.

Bolloré's 12-metre electric buses are a familiar sight on the streets of the French capital, emblazoned with the words "100 percent electric vehicle".

On its website, the company says the buses are "fitted with a new generation of batteries ... with high energy density and optimal safety".

They are installed in the roof and rear of each vehicle.

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