Fact Check-Clip Doesn’t Show Burning ‘Battery Electric’ Bus

A video showing a burning bus in Perugia, Italy, has drawn attention online. Some social media users have incorrectly claimed that it is a battery electric vehicle.

“What happens if an electric bus catches fire? Now you know!” a user sharing the 25 second clip wrote on Twitter ( here ).

“Electric buses…they are the future! reads a Facebook post with the clip (here) which has garnered over 53,000 views.

Other iterations are visible ( here ) ( here ) ( here ).

While it’s true that fires can happen with electric vehicles (here), (here) the engine of the vehicle in this much-shared clip was powered by natural gas and diesel, a spokesman for the Perugia Fire Command.

Local reports described it as a methane bus in Perugia, Italy (here), (here). Another video featured in the reports has a watermark on the right corner of Italian firefighters “Vigili del Fuoco”.

Reuters discovered that the two clips were posted in higher resolution in a Facebook group named “Vigili del Fuoco Perugia” on April 16 (here) (here).

According to the description (originally in Italian), the “methane” powered bus caught fire on the SP 344 road, leaving Ponte della Pietra. Only a mechanic was on board.

Reuters geotagged the clips (bit.ly/3xPfYVr) (see around timestamp 0:13) (here) (bit.ly/3k1z1Ug) (see around timestamp 0:17) (here).

Contacted by Reuters, Stefano Pettinari, the Perugia fire department chief who originally posted the videos, confirmed that the vehicle’s engine was powered by natural gas (methane) and diesel.

“A mechanic was testing it due to a reported failure. Probably due to an electrical short, it caught fire,” he said.

The burnt bus resembles the vehicles seen (here), (here), (here) (see front logo in white) which carry the label “io vado a metano” which translates to “I drive on methane”.

In 2003, the Click Mobility website reported that Perugia’s public transport company (L’Azienda Perugina della Mobilità) had acquired a fleet of methane-powered buses (here).

As the US Department of Energy explains (here), natural gas is a fossil fuel that is primarily composed of methane. Burning it produces about half the CO2 of coal to produce the same energy and although it has been touted as a “bridge fuel” to a renewable-rich future, climate scientists have expressed concern that the using it as a “bridge” could end up locking the world into a high-carbon, rapidly warming future (here).

VERDICT

Wrong caption. This video does not show a burning battery vehicle. According to the Perugia fire department, the bus engine ran on natural gas and diesel.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Learn more about our fact-checking work here.

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