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Electric scooters catching fire left, right and centre: Tips to keep EV battery safe

Electric vehicles are powered by Lithium-ion batteries. This is the same power source that also runs smartphones and we are no strangers to smartphones exploding.

Ola S1 Pro

Image Credit: Twitter


Electric vehicles may be the future of mobility in India but the race to be the first seems to be taking a heavy toll on buyers, at least a few unlucky ones. In the last few days, four separate fire incidents have been reported in different states of India. This sudden surge in fire accidents is coinciding with the approach of the summer season. Also Read - New TVS iQube long range electric scooter to launch today: Here's what to expect

While EVs catching fire have been reported in the past few years, they are only getting highlighted now due to more adoption and popular brands entering the segment. Ola Electric is one brand that generated immense traction for its first electric scooter Ola S1 series. The first incident reported last week was also an Ola scooter. The incident happened in Pune and the explosion occurred right on the road while the scooter was just parked. Also Read - Hero Electric partners with Revfin to jointly finance 2,50,000 electric 2 wheelers

Another incident that gave us a hint of the gravity of the issue was an incident in Vellore. The fire was reportedly caused by an Okinawa Autotech EV or its surrounding charging apparatus. The fire led to the demise of a father-daughter duo. Two other incidents, one in Trichy and the other in Chennai also brought the entire EV industry under the scanner. The govt has also ordered an investigation into the fire incidents, according to a report by CNBC-TV18. Also Read - Vivo launches Vivo Y01 smartphone with 5000mAh battery at Rs 8,999: Check details here

Why are so many electric scooters exploding all of a sudden?

Electric vehicles are powered by Lithium-ion batteries. This is the same power source that also runs smartphones and we are no strangers to smartphones exploding. The size and scale of the explosions and fire are obviously smaller than what we are witnessing with electric scooters.

Another factor that separates the two is exposure. While smartphones mostly see the insides of your pockets or bags, EVs are exposed to sun, rain, and dirt almost all the time. You cannot keep it in cool and dry conditions always. While most OEMs do provide an IP rating for their batteries, they may not be able to factor in the immense heat of Indian summers.

Maxson Lewis, MD and CEO, of Magenta, said that companies cannot copy-paste international solutions into India. He pointed to the 4 major reasons for such incidents: Heat, Humidity, Harmonics and Humans.

What can be done to avert such dangerous situations?

Electric scooters are witnessing a buying frenzy in India. Brands like Ola Electric are opening purchase windows for a limited period due to the massive 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 definitely outweigh the risks for many buyers. Fuel prices have crossed the Rs 100 mark in all four metro cities, with more price hikes expected in the future. The daily running costs are much higher than what they used to be. EVs provide a viable solution to this problem and we shouldn’t expect sales to go down anytime soon.

But we can take some actions on our end to be careful around batteries and EVs. This will not only avoid fires and explosions, but also provide better range and extended battery charge cycles. Here are some of the pointers suggested by Mayank Jain, Director, Crayon Motors:

-Only OEM specified Charger to be used for specific battery type. Do not interchange or use any non- genuine charger.
-Keep batteries at room temperature.
-Please do not charge the batteries within 1 hrs after use. It is advised to let the batteries cool down for some time before charging them.
-If you find battery casing is damaged or Water intrusion has taken place, immediately isolate and store 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 disconnect the charger from the battery.
-Ensure that your lead acid batteries are rotated at regular (3-month intervals) Once the battery reaches approx. 30% of total charge, charge the battery to improve its life.

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  • Published Date: March 30, 2022 6:02 PM IST
  • Updated Date: March 30, 2022 6:04 PM IST


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