By: Siddharth Sikka, Co-Founder Battery Smart
To preface this, it’s important to understand that EV technologies are still fairly new in the grand scope of overall vehicle development. While Internal Combustion Engine vehicles have been the standard for the last century, EVs are newcomers, with the first commercial EVs being sold as late as the 21st century. Hence, regulations, standards and technology are still in their nascent stages.
Statistics-wise, ICE vehicle incidents have much higher absolute numbers. Since EVs have entered the market, we see the number of reported incidents being on par with those of traditional ICE vehicles. However, EV incidents catch more flak due to the technology being more novel and prone to criticism. This novelty of technology is a double-edged sword – on one hand, it brings far more attention to shortcomings, forcing manufacturers to have a quick turnaround in terms of fixing issues. And on the other hand, it allows for rapid innovation, development and testing as market forces push for better, stronger and more efficient technologies.
Our Government has taken a strong, proactive stance on regulation, not just due to the fresh crop of battery malfunction incidents in the country, but also to bring India on par with countries where EV adoption is more developed. Adopting AIS (Automotive Industry Standards) and BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) for EVs have been extremely positive steps that are bringing India to a world-class level. India’s safety push so far has been focused on the AIS norms, especially AIS156 – a master document for light electric vehicles (two-wheelers, three-wheelers and quadricycles), their power trains, and Rechargeable Electrical Energy Storage System (REESS) technologies. It provides a base framework for introducing new light EVs and has been in use since 2020.
One of the most significant aspects being mandated under the AIS156 regulation is software. Battery Management Software or BMS has been getting smarter by proactively detecting abnormal batteries and innovating with battery structure to stop abnormal cells from affecting working cells. The ability to incorporate two-factor contingencies such as cut-offs, fail-safes, and alarms into batteries has been a game changer. BMS technology has been around for years, but its advent in EVs can certainly push the envelope even further. As battery statistics are now available in real-time, OEMs and distributors can review this data and proactively understand which batteries may be prone to overheating, cell degeneration or any other abnormal behaviour. On top of this, the data also allows checks for externally-caused issues like damage, incorrect charging, and outside temperature fluctuations. A smart technology like this provides a fantastic base to make batteries safer.
With the Government of India adopting a consultative approach to battery technology, OEMs and distributors share a unanimous view – product safety is essential to spur further development. Hence, they are strengthening their focus on quality and safety training, as well as closely adhering to the battery safety norms and practical timelines laid down by the Government. This goes a long way in ensuring that only certified products are allowed to be sold, thereby actively reducing the severity and frequency of unsafe incidents.
EV technology is still burgeoning and breakthroughs are expected very soon, which is why standardization becomes difficult. Imagine if computer inputs were standardised 40 years ago, where VGA ports were the standard. We would likely have never made it to this day where faster and more efficient standards, like USB-C, exist. Applying this to EVs, keeping options open for battery sizes, styles and technologies will surely allow for more innovation to bloom, especially in a space like battery swapping where modularity and variety are required. For EV adoption to truly be successful, customer confidence is key and safety plays a pivotal role in ensuring this. As the AIS standards have advanced well, there isn’t an immediate need for revamping just yet. With manufacturers lining up for safety certifications, we can hope for an EV future to grace India far sooner than projected.
The author is Siddharth Sikka, Co-Founder of Battery Smart
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