A fishy story about faulty electric vehicles?

A fishy story about faulty electric vehicles?

A news story about a luxury electric vehicle catching fire went global last week, but did the media miss the real story?

With any new technology, safety is a concern to consumers. When people think about switching to an Electric Vehicle (EV), issues such as cost, reliability, safety and access to charging points will all feature. To that end, people need to feel safe with any new vehicle they drive and they are less likely to buy an EV if they think there is something inherently wrong with the battery technology in the vehicles. 

Peoples’ concerns would have been raised when, on Wednesday 11 April, a story appeared in the Mirror about a family who had lost their hybrid car in a fire while it was being charged.

The headline ran 'Hybrid to Hell: Family flee home after luxury car bursts into flames while charging'. The story soon appeared on LinkedIn feeds for renewable energy. Clive Southwell, an EV consultant, who knows what he is talking about, had made a comment.


The story involved a £56,000 Volvo XC90 hybrid car and £3,000 damage to a family home in Solihull, West Midlands. According to the article, the fire had started on the previous Sunday evening at 10:30pm and a couple with three young children, a pet rabbit and cat had to ‘flee their home’. 

Kids, a rabbit and a cat – almost too good to be true. You can see why the tabloids picked it up. But it also went viral, with stories published in the Daily Mail (by Laura Forsyth on 11 April 10:52 updated 16:35), The Times (by Graeme Paton 12 April 2018, 12:00am) and on BBC News (12 April) and Facebook via BBC Midlands. The trade press also joined the fray (e.g. Garagewire) and the issue was hotly debated on Youtube channels and social chat rooms like ‘PistonHeads’. By Friday 13 April news of the hybrid vehicle disaster was popping up around the globe, for example in South Africa.

Reading the story in more detail you find that:

• Miles Freeman, 46, the owner of the Volvo hybrid, works in battery recycling. So he should know about batteries.

• Freeman bought the ex-demo Volvo hybrid in October 2017 from a Volvo dealership. 

• The fire brigade arrived within five minutes of the 999 call and put out the fire. Not a big deal.

• The charging point was installed by a Volvo-approved company for £850 and Freeman received an OLEV government grant towards the installation. Quite normal. 

• Volvo sent an engineer to investigate the fire, offered to provide a loan car and was waiting for Freeman’s insurance details. Everything you would expect.

• Despite this, Freeman accused Volvo of 'not really caring' about the fire and said that he had 'struggled' to get answers from the Swedish car giant.

Freeman was also ‘quick’ with his story to the press, without checking crucial issues such as his CCTV first. And in doing so, provided all the information you could possibly want for a BAD news story. This was a particularly good BAD publicity story as it involved kids, rabbits, a cat, luxury home, and a luxury car. And the outcome, as Freeman had emphasised, ‘could’ve been disastrous.’

The post on LinkedIn had the indications of intelligent campaigning:

  • Used all the hashtags (#ev, #hybrid, #volvo, # plugin, #battery).
  • Comments about 'government grants' being given to rich people.
  • Use of an 'industry expert' Rubens Basaglia, (as we discuss below).


 So, is there more going on here than meets the eye?

Rubens Basaglia, an expert in alternative fuels technology, shared the story on LinkedIn. He added his own comment that 'not only the gasoline/gas vehicles fire!'.

Contrary to being an expert in electric vehicles, Basaglia is an expert in LPG and diesel. Miles Freeman also coincidentally works in battery recycling, as CEO of Aurelius Environmental which incorporates Aurelius Technology.  

Aurelius Technology holds an exclusive license from Cambridge Enterprise for the commercialisation of lead recycling from lead-acid batteries. Aurelius works with two companies in Brazil and in a press release from Cambridge Enterprise, Miles Freeman says: 'our aim is to deliver the Antares acid-recycling process to the UK and European markets, while simultaneously bringing the Aurelius paste-treatment technology to Brazil'.

Moreover, according to the Aurelius website: 'Lead recycling is a colossal business. In 2013, global recycled lead production rose to 6.1 million tonnes (source: ILA). All of the lead produced in the USA is recycled (i.e. secondary), while in Europe it comprises 70% of the market.'

Indeed, Dr Athan Fox (technology director at Aurelius) says that: 'The global lead-acid battery market is forecast to reach $84 billion USD by 2025.' 

It could be a coincidence that Freeman works on batteries which supply cars running on fossil fuels, but it is worth remembering that the battery in a Volvo XC90 Hybrid car is a Lithium-Iron battery, which is a totally different chemistry to lead-acid batteries. Lead-acid batteries are used in internal combustion engine vehicles. 

Maybe not all is as it seems with this story. There was certainly a rush to judgment. Indeed, there was a follow-up by the BBC, with the headline, 'Hybrid car fire 'started deliberately', CCTV footage reveals’. Miles Freeman had provided CCTV footage of the fire being deliberately started. For whatever reason, Freeman hadn’t checked the CCTV before going public in the Mirror. Now the incident was being treated as criminal damage by West Midlands Police. There was no need for an engineer’s report. But that was after the story had already gone global via social media. 

Perhaps the best post was this YouTube video. The fact that a transcribed YouTube video was made suggests that someone was keen to spread the anti-EV message. 

We’ve seen the same bad press for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Indeed, as the Building Research Establishment (BRE) argued last year: 'Over the past few years, there have been a number of media reports linking photovoltaic power systems (PV) with fire. With the prevalence of PV systems now in the UK, an increase in incident reports is to be expected.' 

Whilst the BRE continues to investigate the matter, when the stories reach the press they are always based on fear (i.e. fire/safety) and spread via social media. 

Many of the stories about 'solar PV fires' turn out not to be caused by the solar PV installation. But by the time you get the 'fire investigation report', the media story has already gone viral. Damage done.

  • Electric Vehicles
  • hybrid cars
  • fire
  • safety
  • Blogs

    Dear friends of this aggregator

    • Yes, I intentionally removed Newsbud from the aggregator on Mar 22.
    • Newsbud did not block the aggregator, although their editor blocked me on twitter after a comment I made to her
    • As far as I know, the only site that blocks this aggregator is Global Research. I have no idea why!!
    • Please stop recommending Newsbud and Global Research to be added to the aggregator.

    Support this site

    News Sources

    Source Items
    WWI Hidden History 50
    Grayzone Project 60
    Pass Blue 134
    Dilyana Gaytandzhieva 14
    John Pilger 415
    The Real News 367
    Scrutinised Minds 29
    Need To Know News 2149
    FEE 3982
    Marine Le Pen 288
    Francois Asselineau 25
    Opassande 53
    HAX on 5July 220
    Henrik Alexandersson 734
    Mohamed Omar 298
    Professors Blog 10
    Arg Blatte Talar 40
    Angry Foreigner 17
    Fritte Fritzson 12
    Teologiska rummet 32
    Filosofiska rummet 91
    Vetenskapsradion Historia 139
    Snedtänkt (Kalle Lind) 199
    Les Crises 2367
    Richard Falk 142
    Ian Sinclair 92
    SpinWatch 56
    Counter Currents 7784
    Kafila 407
    Gail Malone 34
    Transnational Foundation 221
    Rick Falkvinge 94
    The Duran 8527
    Vanessa Beeley 93
    Nina Kouprianova 9
    MintPress 5315
    Paul Craig Roberts 1448
    News Junkie Post 58
    Nomi Prins 27
    Kurt Nimmo 191
    Strategic Culture 4235
    Sir Ken Robinson 20
    Stephan Kinsella 79
    Liberty Blitzkrieg 831
    Sami Bedouin 62
    Consortium News 2359
    21 Century Wire 3259
    Burning Blogger 318
    Stephen Gowans 76
    David D. Friedman 148
    Anarchist Standard 16
    The BRICS Post 1496
    Tom Dispatch 465
    Levant Report 18
    The Saker 3876
    The Barnes Review 502
    John Friend 411
    Psyche Truth 146
    Jonathan Cook 135
    New Eastern Outlook 3537
    School Sucks Project 1757
    Giza Death Star 1739
    Andrew Gavin Marshall 15
    Red Ice Radio 589
    GMWatch 2049
    Robert Faurisson 150
    Espionage History Archive 34
    Jay's Analysis 854
    Le 4ème singe 88
    Jacob Cohen 203
    Agora Vox 13404
    Cercle Des Volontaires 427
    Panamza 1930
    Fairewinds 109
    Project Censored 808
    Spy Culture 448
    Conspiracy Archive 70
    Crystal Clark 11
    Timothy Kelly 528
    PINAC 1482
    The Conscious Resistance 705
    Independent Science News 70
    The Anti Media 6162
    Positive News 820
    Brandon Martinez 30
    Steven Chovanec 61
    Lionel 276
    The Mind renewed 434
    Natural Society 2563
    Yanis Varoufakis 901
    Tragedy & Hope 122
    Dr. Tim Ball 97
    Web of Debt 136
    Porkins Policy Review 386
    Conspiracy Watch 174
    Eva Bartlett 579
    Libyan War Truth 307
    DeadLine Live 1909
    Kevin Ryan 62
    BSNEWS 2014
    Aaron Franz 209
    Traces of Reality 166
    Revelations Radio News 121
    Dr. Bruce Levine 136
    Peter B Collins 1457
    Faux Capitalism 205
    Dissident Voice 10078
    Climate Audit 222
    Donna Laframboise 397
    Judith Curry 1095
    Geneva Business Insider 40
    Media Monarchy 2179
    Syria Report 76
    Human Rights Investigation 90
    Intifada (Voice of Palestine) 1685
    Down With Tyranny 10984
    Laura Wells Solutions 39
    Video Rebel's Blog 420
    Revisionist Review 485
    Aletho News 19108
    ضد العولمة 27
    Penny for your thoughts 2850
    Northerntruthseeker 2220
    كساريات 37
    Color Revolutions and Geopolitics 27
    Stop Nato 4690 Blog 2867 Original Content 6530
    Corbett Report 2205
    Stop Imperialism 491
    Land Destroyer 1148
    Webster Tarpley Website 1040

    Compiled Feeds

    Public Lists

    Title Visibility
    Funny Public