Your browser is currently blocking notification.
Please follow this instruction to subscribe:
X
Notifications are already enabled.
X

Govt Plans To Bring EV Battery Quality Norms In The Wake Of Multiple Fire Incidents

Govt Plans To Bring EV Battery Quality Norms In The Wake Of Multiple Fire Incidents

A senior official from the road transport and highways ministry told ET that the government is planning to come out with norms to assure quality controls for EV batteries

The policy is expected to cover performance testing and manufacturing standards of these batteries, along with their heat resistance capacity

While the investigations on EV fires are ongoing, majority blame it on higher temperature factors, cheap batteries and compromises in the required testing methods

The government of India might soon come out with standards for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, following the recent fire incidents in electric scooters across brands.

A senior official from the road transport and highways ministry told ET that the government is planning to come out with norms to assure quality controls for batteries used in EVs.

“The fires are a matter of concern… We have informally started directing EV manufacturers to improve (on) their existing vehicles,” said the official to the publication, adding that the work for such a proposed battery policy has already begun.

As per the report, the policy is expected to cover performance testing and manufacturing standards of the EV batteries, along with their heat resistance capacity.

The government has been warning the EV makers for a few months after EV fire incidents started making frequent headlines. 

For instance, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant asked EV original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) last week to voluntarily recall batches involved in the EV fire incidents.

Talking to CNBC-TV18, Kant said, “Manufacturing of cells isn’t regulated… battery management system needs to be strengthened. There has been a clear partnership between battery manufacturing and battery management.”

“We have stringent testing standards but OEMs need to certify batteries to adhere to standards,” Kant added.

In fact, the Centre said last month that a team of independent experts has been deputed to investigate the EV fire incidents.

Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, while speaking in Lok Sabha on the EV fire cases last month, had pointed at higher temperature as the probable reason behind the incidents.

“This is a very serious issue and we have ordered a forensic investigation into each individual event,” said Gadkari, adding that the government would take appropriate steps once the exact technical reason behind the accidents is known.

Causes Behind The EV Fire Incidents

While the investigations are still on and the real reasons behind the fires are yet to come out in public, higher temperature factors, cheap batteries and compromise in the required testing methods are a few reasons assumed by many.

A large number of people associated with the industry have particularly started pointing at the low-quality imports of EV batteries from China and other regions as the most probable reason for such back-to-back EV fire incidents.

Many EV battery makers are just importing the cheap Chinese cells, packing them into a pack and selling them to manufacturers, said Sambit Chakraborty, part of the advisory board for Indigrid Technology, which assembles battery packs for electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers, according to a recent Inc42 report.

He added that this process contributes to lower production costs and on-road prices, which is used as a way to market these EVs.

As per the same report, Akash Gupta, cofounder and CEO at Zypp Electric, which makes commercial EVs, said, “Packaging of the battery pack is vital. If the battery is not packed correctly or carelessly or with substandard materials, it will lead to a short circuit, as in any electronic appliance, leading to fire.”

Fires Rise Along With Sales

At a time when the country is reporting more EV scooter fire incidents and there is a lack of clarity on the issue, EV sales in the country have more than tripled year-on-year in FY22.

According to the Federation of Automobile Dealership Associations of India (FADAI) data, 4,29,217 units of EVs were sold in FY22, compared to 1,34,821 in the previous financial year. In that, electric two-wheeler retail sales were at 2,31,338 units, as opposed to 41,046 units in FY21.

Hero Electric Vehicles registered sales of 65,303 units in FY22, accounting for a 28.23% market share in the two-wheeler segment followed by the much-talked-about company Okinawa Autotech. Okinawa sold 46,447 units in the financial year, accounting for a 20.08% market share.

On the other hand, Okinawa has recently been receiving a lot of public attention for various incidents.

In March, Okinawa’s name came up in an incident when its EV scooter at Tamil Nadu’s Vellore caught fire claiming the lives of two, including a 13-year old girl.

Next, the electric two-wheeler maker said last week it will voluntarily recall 3,215 units of its Praise Pro Scooters to fix battery-related issues, starting April 16, in the first such incident in India.

Just after that, an incident came up on social media where one of its dealership units in Tamil Nadu could be seen burning down to ashes after a reported fire in the company’s e-scooter. However, Okinawa stated that the fire was due to an electric short circuit in the panel wiring in the building.

EVs started coming in a negative light since a video of an Ola Electric scooter catching fire went viral on social media in March.

Earlier, other players such as PureEV, HCD India, Jitendra EV have also seen their electric two-wheelers burst into flames in the middle of the roads. In 2021 also, an Okinawa scooter reportedly caught fire. The same year, an ePluto scooter built by Pure EV was also seen in flames in Hyderabad.

Note: We at Inc42 take our ethics very seriously. More information about it can be found here.