For years, there have been memes and photos circulating online that claim to show hundreds of electric vehicles abandoned in Paris
One meme says: “France: They bought electric cars for civil servants but it was too expensive to replace the batteries. After that, no one else wanted the cars. Now they are here.”
A tweet with the meme has been retweeted more than 8,000 times and has over 24,000 likes.
A Facebook post that has been shared more than 700 times shows different pictures with a long caption that says the electric vehicle “boneyard” in Paris exists because there is no way to dispose of electric vehicle batteries that need to be replaced, and the city can’t afford to pay for replacement batteries.
Does this meme show abandoned electric vehicles in France?
No, this meme doesn’t show an electric car graveyard in France. The photo was taken in China.
WHAT WE FOUND
Using RevEye, a reverse image search engine, VERIFY tracked the type of vehicles seen in the images to Chinese website Baidu. The same type of vehicle and green logo seen in the meme also appear in the images from the website.
According to the website, which is written in Chinese and translated using Google Translate, there was a storage lot of 3,000 “obsolete” energy efficient vehicles located in China’s Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province by the Qiantang River. According to the South China Morning Post, the lot was rented out in order to store the vehicles.
Satellite imagery from Zoom Earth that was included in the Baidu article shows the storage lot filled with vehicles, but VERIFY could not confirm the date the images were taken.
On Oct. 14, VERIFY used Google Earth to find the same location, and the same large lot, but the vehicles were no longer there.
An article from website India Times that had the satellite images of the abandoned vehicles said the cars were once owned by Chinese company Microcity, which went out of business.
So, we can VERIFY this meme does not show electric vehicles abandoned in Paris, nor is there any evidence the vehicles were ever supplied to public servants.
This isn’t the first time claims like this have been made.
Do these photos show a “boneyard” of electric vehicles in Paris, abandoned because of battery issues?
No, while the electric vehicles were parked in Paris, there is no evidence they were abandoned because of battery issues. VERIFY wrote about these images in June 2021.
WHAT WE FOUND
The cars pictured in the Facebook post are part of a fleet from Autolib, which was an electric car ridesharing company that operated from 2011 to 2018. The company’s slogan can be seen on the side of vehicles.
The Autolib cars were introduced back in 2011 and were part of a partnership between the City of Paris and a transportation company called “Bolloré.”
In 2016, the deal with the city began falling apart after Autolib’s parent company reported a deficit of 179.3 million euros (approximately $174 million U.S. dollars) and the city decided to not renew the contract, according to a press release from the city of Paris.
In July 2018, the city formally announced on Twitter the rideshare program would no longer be available.
The original photos that have been reshared were first posted in March 2021 to the Vega Gex Facebook page, a French page that has content about electric vehicles.
According to a report from Actu Paris, which shared the Vega Gex Facebook post, the parked vehicles were eventually either put in storage or sold.