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Poor grade cells, quality issues with BMS led to EV fires: Expert committee

Multiple fire incidents involving electric two-wheelers of Ola Electric, Okinawa, Pure EV, Jitendra New EV Tech and Boom Motors, were reported in March and April 2022.

Ola Electric Scooter Fire

Poor grade cells used in batteries and quality issues with the battery management system (BMS) are seen to be the major reasons for the spate of fires in electric two-wheelers recently, according to the findings of the government-appointed committee.

The committee submitted its report to the government on Tuesday. Though the findings have not been disclosed yet, sources said that according to the report, these companies did not conduct enough tests on their electric vehicles (EVs). They have also been asked to set up laboratories for testing cells.

Multiple fire incidents involving electric two-wheelers of Ola Electric, Okinawa, Pure EV, Jitendra New EV Tech and Boom Motors, were reported in March and April, following which the ministry of road transport and highways had set up a committee comprising experts from Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES) and Indian Institute of Science, to probe each of these incidents.

The committee’s report has been sent to the concerned companies like Ola Electric, Okinawa, Pure EV, Jitendra New EV Tech and Boom Motors, and the government has sought a reply from them about the alleged lapses.

The committee also found lapses on the part of testing agencies like the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and the International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT).

FE had earlier reported that currently there is no conformity of production (CoP) to ensure that the samples of batteries that manufacturers get tested at ARAI or ICAT are used in all the vehicles they produce. There is no system wherein these two agencies inspect the production units of EV manufacturers to ensure that uniform battery standards are maintained. There is no system of random checks also on the production units.

The manufacturers get four-six samples of lithium-ion batteries tested by ARAI and ICAT, but whether they use the same across vehicles is not ascertained by any regulatory agency. This has been highlighted by industry executives and experts as one of the prime reasons for some of the EVs catching fire.

Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had last month asked the companies whose EVs had caught fire to recall all defective batches of vehicles, following which Okinawa had announced a recall of 3,215 units, Pure EV of 2,000 units and Ola of 1,441 units. Boom had also recalled its Corbett electric two-wheeler. The EV fire incidents have not only resulted in injuries but also casualties in certain cases.

Gadkari had also said that based on the expert committee’s report necessary orders on the defaulting companies will be issued and if any company is found negligent in their processes, a heavy penalty will be imposed.

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