Govt panel finds defect in battery cells in almost all EV fires

The committee was constituted last month in the wake of EV fires and battery blasts in e-scooters belonging to Okinawa Autotech, Boom Motor, Pure EV, Jitendra EV, and Ola Electric. According to sources close to the development, the experts have found defects in battery cells as well as battery design in nearly all EV fires, including the deadly battery explosion in Telangana.

In what could put EV two-wheeler manufacturers in a tough spot, the preliminary findings from the government-constituted probe committee on electric vehicle (EV) fires have found issues with battery cells/design in nearly all of the electric two-wheeler (2W) fire incidents in the country.

The committee was constituted last month in the wake of EV fires and battery blasts in e-scooters belonging to Okinawa Autotech, Boom Motor, Pure EV, Jitendra EV, and Ola Electric.

According to sources close to the development, the experts have found defects in battery cells as well as battery design in nearly all EV fires, including the deadly battery explosion in Telangana.

An 80-year-old man was killed and two others injured when the battery of a Pure EV electric two-wheeler exploded in their house in Telangana's Nizamabad district.

Sources said that the experts would now work individually with the EV manufacturers to resolve respective battery issues in their vehicles.

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Ola Electric said in a statement to IANS that they have commissioned world-class agencies, "in addition to our own investigation, to perform an internal assessment on the root cause".

"As per the preliminary assessment of these experts, it was likely an isolated thermal incident," the company said.

Ola Electric has already voluntarily recalled 1,441 vehicles to conduct pre-emptive diagnostics and health checks on scooters in that specific batch.

"Our battery pack already complies and is tested for AIS 156, the latest proposed standard for India, in addition to being compliant with the European standard ECE 136," the company added.

Okinawa Autotech declined to comment on the development.

The Delhi High Court this week issued notice to the Centre and the Delhi government on a plea seeking directions for mandatory insurance for electric two-wheelers.

Apart from insurance coverage, the plea also sought to ensure reliable and long-lasting batteries in the vehicle by the manufacturers in a way to avoid overheating and fire accidents.

Earlier, cautioning the EV manufacturers, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the government will soon issue quality-centric guidelines for electric vehicles.

Gadkari warned EV makers last month that if any company is found negligent in their processes, "a heavy penalty will be imposed and a recall of all defective vehicles will also be ordered".

"We have constituted an Expert Committee to inquire into these incidents and make recommendations on remedial steps. Based on the reports, we will issue necessary orders on the defaulting companies," he had said.

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In another tragic incident involving an electric two-wheeler, a 40-year-old man died in Andhra Pradesh's Vijayawada after a blast occurred in an e-scooter belonging to Boom Motors while being charged at home.

The incident also left the Kotakonda Siva Kumar's wife and two daughters with severe burn injuries.

To date, three Pure EV, one Ola, three Okinawa and 20 Jitendra EV scooters have caught fire in the country, raising burning questions about their safety.

Several EV makers have recalled the faulty batches amid the heat.

The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has refuted media reports that claimed the government has asked electric two-wheeler manufacturers to refrain from launching any new products in the market in the wake of EV fires.

Stressing that the government seeks to make EVs more popular among the masses, Gadkari had said the EV industry has just started.

"We don't want to put a hurdle but safety is first and foremost priority," he noted.