January 19, 2022

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Photo of electric cars shows French car storage area, not result of battery failure

The claim: Photos show electric cars discarded in a garbage dump after batteries failed

An old claim about a field full of abandoned electric cars has found life yet again on social media.

“This is a garbage dump near Paris, France with hundreds of electrically powered cars,” read a December 25, 2021, Facebook post. “They all have the same problem,… the battery storage cells have gone and need to be replaced.”

The post garnered nearly 400 shares in 9 days. Another identical version of the post was shared another 250 times in a week.

However, the post is wrong.

While the photos do show electric cars in France, they are not at a garbage dump, nor were they placed at the location due to failed batteries. The cars were moved to the lot after a French rideshare service failed, according to multiple French news reports.

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Slightly different versions of the claim have circulated on social media throughout the last year and have been debunked by Politifact, Reuters, AFP and Lead Stories. In many of the past versions, the lot in the photos is referred to as a “boneyard” instead of a “garbage dump.”

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook users who shared the claim for comment.

Photo shows stored EVs from failed rideshare service, not garbage dump

The photos show electric cars parked on a lot in Romorantin-Lanthenay, France, located roughly 125 miles south of Paris.

The vehicles were originally utilized by a French subscription rideshare service, according to a French news report. The Bolloré group operated the service until Parisian authorities canceled its contract in 2018 due to financial issues, according to Reuters.

After the contract was canceled, the Bolloré group sold some of its inventory to a company called Atis Production, which stored the cars on the lot shown in the photos, according to a French news report. The report described the lot as being located in an industrial area and made no mention of it being a garbage dump. The pictures show a field full of cars with no additional garbage accumulation.

“None of these cars found itself there because there was a generalized technology problem,” Fabricio Protti, Deputy CEO of Bolloré, told AFP.

Bolloré group did not respond to USA TODAY’s requests for comment. Atis Production could not be reached.

Fact check: Photo shows privately constructed EV charger in Australia, botches math on efficiency

USA TODAY has debunked other inaccurate claims related to electric car battery life.

One previous claim also involved a photo of tightly clustered parked cars said to be an “electric car cemetery in France,” populated by vehicles allegedly discarded after battery failure. In fact, the picture showed Chinese vehicles retired after a rideshare company upgraded to new models.

In another instance, social media users claimed electric cars caused an enormous traffic jam during a California snowstorm after hours of idling drained their batteries. Traffic delays associated with the storm actually occurred when a “mass exodus” of vehicles overwhelmed a freshly reopened highway system.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that photos show electric cars discarded in a garbage dump after batteries failed. The photo shows a lot where cars from a failed rideshare service were stored by a private company.

Our fact-check sources:

  • PolitiFact, May 17, 2021, No, electric cars weren’t abandoned because batteries too costly to replace

  • Reuters, May 19, 2021, Fact Check-Electric cars taken off French roads due to contract termination, not battery fault

  • Reuters, June 21, 2018, Paris ends Autolib electric car sharing contract with Bollore

  • USA TODAY, July 14, 2021, Fact check: Viral image of an electric car ‘cemetery’ shows vehicles from a ride-share company in China

  • franceinfo, April 5, 2021, What will become of the cumbersome Autolib ‘piled up in the “cemetery” of Romorantin?

  • actuParis, Mar. 9, 2021, Three years after the end of Autolib in Paris, a thousand electric cars are waiting for a second life

  • BFMBuisness, Aug. 31, 2018, After leaving Paris, the Autolib ‘found in the loir-et-cher

  • AFP, May 19, 2021, Electric cars in France were not discarded due to faulty technology

  • Lead Stories, May 18, 2021, Fact Check: Electric Cars In Storage Lot Were NOT Abandoned Due To Battery Problems

  • Eltis, June 28, 2018, Plug pulled on Paris’ shared electric car service Autolib

  • La Nouvelle Republique, July 20, 2018, Autolib ‘at the end of their life fail in Romorantin

  • USA TODAY, Jan. 5, Fact check: Traffic jam caused by ‘mass exodus’ after highway reopened, not electric cars

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Electric vehicles stored when rideshare service failed

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