(Photo via @TeddyAmen on Twitter)
After a Skip e-scooter’s external battery caught on fire May 30 in the District, the company announced that it would temporarily ground it’s scooter fleet in D.C. and San Francisco while it investigates the incident.
Washington Post Metro Audience Editor Teddy Amenabar caught the burning e-scooter in action and shared images on Twitter.
It looked so peaceful by the time I walked past it. pic.twitter.com/jddWCHQMrU
— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksWP) May 30, 2019
The fire caused minor damage to the building next to the incident. As a result, Skip made an announcement on Twitter on Monday that it would temporarily ground it’s D.C. and San Francisco fleets, with hopes of getting the scooters back online within a few days. Skip first left their e-scooters online and said they were investigating.
On May 31, Skip announced that the investigation would continue, so they held their D.C. fleet last weekend. The company plans to share results with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to get the scooters back online, even though the company said on Twitter that it has “no reason to believe in a systemic fleet issue.”
Skip removed the e-scooters at DDOT’s request, DDOT’s Public Information Officer Terry Owen told Technical.ly. Owens said DDOT has not officially suspended or revoked Skip’s dockless vehicle permit at this time but that the department reserves the right to revoke a permit to operate in public space if it’s determined to be in the public’s interest to do so.
Since then, the e-scooters have not come back online in the District or in San Francisco, where the company had 800 active e-scooters. TechCrunch even reported this error message that appears in Skip’s app for D.C. users:
Here’s a thread of Skip’s latest update since the incident occured:
Out of an abundance of caution and until we are able to share our complete investigation with regulators, we will not deploy in San Francisco. We expect our scooters to be back on the road in the next few days. Thanks for your patience and support.
— Skip (@SkipScooters) June 3, 2019
Though this battery malfunction is the first incident for Skip, it’s not for company Cofounder and CEO Sanjay Dastoor. In 2016, Dastoor’s previous venture, Boosted Board, experienced a smoking battery issue, causing the company to hold its second fleet, The Verge reported. Boosted Board featured external batteries to make skateboards electronic. Boosted sold directly to consumers so when the battery malfunction occurred, they asked their customers to stop riding them while they investigated. Dastoor said at the time that the incident was attributed to a quality control issue during the assembly process when the water-resistant seal and sealant were applied to the boards.
Skip currently has 950 e-scooters available between D.C. and Arlington, Va., with plans to add 700 more, Skip Washington, D.C., General Manager Rob McPherson said during the transportation edition of DC Tech Meetup in March. In March, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) added e-scooters to its dockless vehicle pilot, where the department is collecting data about car-free transportation options in the District.
DDOT is still piloting dockless vehicles in D.C. and the department reopened the application period on May 31 for operators to apply for dockless vehicle permits.-30-
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