Electric vehicles may be the future of mobility in India, but the race to be first appears to be taking a heavy toll on buyers, at least some unlucky ones. Four fire incidents have been reported in different states of India in the past few days. This sudden increase in fire accidents coincides with the approach of the summer season. Also Read – Watch: Pure EV Electric Scooter Catches Fire in Chennai
While EV fires have been reported in recent years, they are only now being highlighted as more adoption and popular brands enter the segment. Ola Electric is a brand that has generated tremendous traction for their first Ola S1 series electric scooter. The first incident reported last week also involved an Ola scooter. The incident happened in Pune and the explosion happened right on the street while the scooter was just parked. Also Read – Is It Really Safe to Buy Electric Scooters?
Another incident that gave us an indication of the seriousness of the problem was an incident in Vellore. The fire was reportedly caused by an Okinawa Autotech electric vehicle or a surrounding charger. The fire resulted in the deaths of a father-daughter duo. Two other incidents, one in Trichy and the other in Chennai, brought the entire electric vehicle industry under the microscope. The government has also ordered an investigation into the fire incidents, according to a report by CNBC-TV18. Also Read – Tesla Shuts Factory in China Amid Spread of Covid: Report
Why are so many electric scooters suddenly exploding?
Electric vehicles are powered by lithium-ion batteries. This is the same power source that powers smartphones, and we’re no strangers to smartphones exploding. The size and scale of the explosions and fire are obviously smaller than what we see with electric scooters.
Another factor separating the two is exposure. While smartphones mostly see the inside of your pockets or bags, electric vehicles are almost constantly exposed to the sun, rain, and dirt. You can’t always keep it cool and dry. Although most OEMs provide an IP rating for their batteries, they may not be able to account for the intense Indian summer heat.
Maxson Lewis, MD and CEO of Magenta said that companies cannot copy and paste international solutions in India. He pointed out the 4 main reasons for such incidents: heat, humidity, harmonics and people.
What can be done to avert such dangerous situations?
Electric scooters are experiencing a spending spree in India. Brands like Ola Electric are opening limited-time buying windows due to massive demand. Other brands are trying to expand their presence in the country but are limited due to the supply chain.
The benefits of electric scooters, bikes and cars definitely outweigh the risks for many buyers. Fuel prices have surpassed the 100 rupee mark in all four major cities and further price increases are expected in the future. Daily running costs are much higher than they used to be. 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 when dealing with batteries and electric vehicles. This not only avoids fires and explosions, but also ensures a better range and longer battery charging cycles. Here are some of the hints suggested by Mayank Jain, Director, Crayon Motors:
-Only OEM specified charger allowed to be used for a specific battery type. Do not replace and use non-original charger.
– Store batteries at room temperature.
– Please do not charge the batteries within 1 hour after use. It is recommended to let the batteries cool down for a while before charging.
-If you find that the battery case is damaged or water has entered, immediately isolate it, store it separately and inform your dealer.
– The battery and charger should be stored in a clean, dry and ventilated place, avoid contact with corrosive substances, keep away from fire and heat sources (not less than 2 meters), keep away from flammable substances, and separate the charger from the battery.
-Ensure your lead-acid batteries are changed regularly (3 month intervals) Once the battery has approximately 30% of the total charge, charge the battery to prolong its life.
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