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EV battery explosion: Top industry leaders, Ministries to line-up multiple meetings

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There might be a whole new change around the battery technology for the electric vehicles (EVs) in the near future, as cases of fire accidents involving EVs increased over the last few days, across the country.

The EV manufacturers and various government departments/policy makers are scheduled to meet multiple times in the coming days, to discuss solutions and roadmap, according to sources.

“Manufacturers, specialists and certification agencies are meeting with different ministries (Department of Heavy Industries and Department of Science and Technology) to jointly understand what steps can be taken… Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) will also be part of the meetings,” a source privy to the development told BusinessLine.

Alarm system

Some of the immediate changes include an alarm system to be put in the vehicles, which can alert the owners when the battery overheats so that life and properly can be saved, he said.

“There are small thermal sensors available, which can be pasted on the battery boxes and it can sense the temperature, and when the temperature gets high (over a certain limit), it automatically switches the button of panic alarm thereby warning the customer,” he said .

The temperature limit can be calibrated by the manufacturers, as per the regulations set by the government. Some of the manufacturers were offered the alarm systems but they denied saying their batteries are safe, he added.

According to industry experts, there are two chemicals involved – Phosphate and lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide (termed as NMC) in the battery technology available today.

“Phosphate is safer – its not that fire incidents doesn’t happen there, but it doesn’t spread…it keeps smoldering inside. In the case of NMC, it is very volatile and the fire doesn’t stop, it keeps increasing. But, it is lighter and compact in size. Tesla has used it, but for Asian countries it is using the Phosphate ones (which are bulky, but cheaper),” Sohinder Gill, Director General Society of Manufacturers of EVs (SMEV), told BusinessLine.

In the case of two-wheelers it is really up to the manufacturers to decide on which ones they are using.

“Everyone is importing the cells. There are categories – A, B and C and if you are buying the cheapest cells, it is risky. People are blindly buying the cells and making the batteries here. They will end up with such incidents then. You should go to the plant, check their manufacturing, enquire what safety measures they are using and then you can buy the safer chemistry,” Gill cautioned.

Gill also said that there are more than 1.50-lakh electric two-wheelers running on the Indian roads today and around 40,000 or more must have equipped with such batteries which should be recalled. Some of the manufacturers such as Okinawa, Ola Electric and Pure EV have already announced for the recalls after the fire incidents involving their vehicles.

The government has also said it will take action after expert panels set up to investigate fire incidents submitted their reports. Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport, has also said that the government will also soon issue quality-centric guidelines for EVs and if any company is found negligent in their processes, a heavy penalty will be imposed and a recall of all defective vehicles will be ordered.

There have been several incidents of battery explosion with EVs since December and loss of seven lives in such accidents.

Published on

April 24, 2022



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