Fact Check-Electric cars taken off French roads due to contract termination, not battery fault

Dozens of electric cars were left in a field in France because the company’s contract with local authorities ran out and not because of an issue with their battery storage cells as social media users questioning the environmental benefits of electric cars are claiming.

The posts (here , here , here) show pictures of the cars, with the caption: “This is a boneyard near Paris, France with hundreds of electric powered cars. […] All of these have the same issue… the battery storage cells have given out and need to be replaced. […] So, these green fairy tale electric cars are sitting in vacant lots while their batteries drain toxins into the ground. Still think we need to go green???”

These posts are being shared as U.S. President Joe Biden plans to make the case for his $174 billion electric vehicle plan, calling for government grants for new battery production facilities (here).

The logo on the cars shows that they are from “Autolib”, a fleet of electric cars used in a car-sharing scheme in Paris and the surrounding suburbs that was launched in 2011 and had 150,000 active users who could take out the cars when they needed.

As reported by Reuters here , Parisian authorities ended the Bollore group’s contract to operate the Autolib electric vehicle fleet in June 2018 due to financial difficulties. Persistent issues with cleanliness, problems with parking and booking as well as competition from other modes of transport such as Uber pushed the service into the red, with cumulated losses of 293 million euros expected by 2023.

French media reports here , here and here which show pictures of the cars lined up in a field like those in the social media posts, explain that the termination of the contract meant that Bollore had to remove its 4,000 vehicles from the Paris region to Romorantin-Lanthenay, 200 kms (124 miles) south of Paris. Bollore sold the cars, most of them going to two companies, Autopuzz, which resells the cars throughout France, and Atis Production.

On claims about soil pollution risk posed by the cars, Paul Aouizerate, head of Atis Production, told France Info here “Our vehicles are properly stored. The firefighters are aware, the construction site is well organized. All the batteries have been removed and the connectors are isolated.”

He added that the cars were not going to a junkyard. Autopuzz told France TV Info it is reselling the cars to buyers across France at a rate of 50 per month (here).


Partly false. These are genuine photos of electric cars in France, but they were taken off the road due to financial difficulties, not problems with the battery storage cells. More than 2,500 of the cars have been resold.

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