Electric vehicles may be the future of mobility in India, but the race to be first is taking a toll on buyers, at least some of the unlucky ones. In the last few days, four separate incidents of fire have been reported in different states of India. This sudden increase in fire accidents is coinciding with the arrival of the summer season.
While EVs have been reported to be on fire in the past few years, they are only now getting highlighted due to greater adoption and popular brands entering the segment. Ola Electric is one such brand that has created immense traction for its first electric scooter, the Ola S1 series. The first incident reported last week was also of an Ola scooter. The incident took place in Pune and the blast took place on the road when the scooter was parked.
Another incident which gave us an indication of the seriousness of the issue was an incident in Vellore. The fire was reportedly caused by an Okinawa Autotech EV or its nearby charging equipment. The father-daughter duo died in the fire. Two other incidents, one in Trichy and the other in Chennai also brought the entire EV industry into question. According to a report in CNBC-TV18, the government has also ordered an inquiry into the incidents of fire.
Why are so many electric scooters suddenly exploding?
Electric vehicles are powered by lithium-ion batteries. This is the same power source that also drives smartphones and we are no strangers to exploding smartphones. The size and scale of explosions and fires are obviously smaller than those of electric scooters.
Another factor that differentiates the two is exposure. While smartphones are mostly seen inside your pocket or bag, EVs are exposed to sunlight, rain and dirt almost all the time. You cannot always keep it in a cool and dry condition. While most OEMs assign an IP rating to their batteries, they may not be able to withstand the extreme heat of the Indian summer.
Magenta MD and CEO Maxson Lewis said companies cannot copy-paste international solutions in India. He pointed to 4 major causes of such phenomena: heat, humidity, harmonics and humans.
What can be done to avoid such dangerous situations?
Buying craze is being seen in electric scooters in India. Brands like Ola Electric are opening doors for limited period purchases due to heavy demand. Other brands are trying to expand their footprint in the country but are limited due to the supply chain.
The benefits of electric scooters, bikes and cars certainly outweigh the risks for many buyers. Fuel prices have crossed the Rs 100 mark in all the four metro cities, with further hikes expected in the future. The cost of daily walking is much higher than before. Electric vehicles offer a viable solution to this problem and we shouldn’t expect sales to drop anytime soon.
But we can take some steps on our part to be careful with batteries and electric vehicles. Not only will this protect against fire and explosion, but it will also provide better range and extended battery charge cycles. Here are some pointers suggested by Mayank Jain, Director, Crayon Motors:
-OEM specified charger to be used for specific battery type only. Do not interchange or use any non-genuine charger.
-Keep the batteries at room temperature.
-Please do not charge the battery within 1 hour after use. It is recommended that the batteries cool down for some time before charging them.
-If you find that the battery casing is damaged or water infiltrated, immediately disassemble and store separately, and notify your dealer.
-The battery and charger should be stored in a clean, dry and ventilated place, avoid contact with corrosive substances, away from sources of fire and heat (not less than 2 meters), away from flammable materials, and The battery should be disconnected from the charger.
-Make sure your lead acid batteries are rotated regularly (at 3-month intervals) when the battery is approx. 30% of the total charge, charge the battery to improve its life.
After electric scooters catching fire left, right and center: Tips to protect EV batteries first appeared on BGR India.