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Lime Quietly Pulled Scooters In LA Over Battery Fire Risk And Could Recall More

A Lime dockless electric scooter is parked on a sidewalk along Wilshire Boulevard, available for its next rider. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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Some celebrate e-scooters as a cheap, green mobility option while others sound the alarm over what they see as a threat to public safety. Hopefully there's one thing both groups would agree on: they shouldn't randomly catch fire.

But that's what some scooters in Lime's local fleet were at risk of doing, according to the company.

In a community update posted this week, Lime said it learned this August of a battery defect in its Segway-built Ninebot scooters which "could result in the battery smoldering or, in some cases, catching fire." Lime said the at-risk scooters were discovered in its Los Angeles, San Diego and Lake Tahoe markets.

The scooter fire that sparked the recall was reported at one of the company's facilities in Lake Tahoe, according to The Washington Post, citing an incident report it obtained in which a Lime employee reported hearing a "loud bang" and discovering "flames showing from the battery area of a scooter as well as an adjacent chair."

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"Immediately upon learning of the defect, we worked with Segway Ninebot to create a software program to detect the potentially affected batteries," Lime officials said in its community post. "We then worked independently to create an even more thorough software program to ensure that no potentially faulty scooters remained in circulation."

That meant using a code that flagged scooters deemed at risk by the company, which were then deactivated, according to Lime.

A company spokesman did not respond to questions about when the scooters were recalled, precisely how many were affected or whether their L.A. market included the cities of Long Beach and Santa Monica, where the company is participating in mobility pilot programs.

Lime and Bird scooter riders zip along the strand in Santa Monica. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

The recall might not be the last for the company. The post goes on to say Lime "received an unconfirmed report that another Segway Ninebot scooter model may also be vulnerable to battery failure, which we are currently investigating."

It wasn't clear which model or models of the Ninebot scooter have been found to be at risk of a battery defect (the company's website features three different models). Segway did not respond to a request for comment.

Lime listed a few steps its taking to minimize future risk to riders, including only charging its Ninebot scooters at company-run storage facilities, keeping them out of the hands of so-called "juicers" -- freelancers who pick up and charge e-scooters overnight.

The city of Los Angeles has its own pilot program with e-scooter operators, including Lime and Bird, which went into effect in early October. The regulations place a cap of 3,000 scooters on the participating companies, with options to add thousands more for operating in certain disadvantaged communities.

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