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Nitin Gadkari assures action after several incidents of e-scooters catching fire, asks companies to recall defective vehicles: Read details about the problem

So far three Pure EV, one Ola Electric, two Okinawa and 20 Jitendra EV scooters have caught fire in about three weeks.

With the recent spate of incidents of e-scooters catching fire in different parts of the country, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari took to the microblogging site Twitter on April 21, Thursday, to share his concerns through a series of Tweets and assured inquiry into these incidents.

“Several mishaps involving Electric Two Wheelers have come to light in last two months. It is most unfortunate that some people have lost their lives and several have been injured in these incidents”, Tweeted the Union minister of Road Transport and Highway.

In his following Tweet, Gadkari said that the government has constituted an Expert Committee to enquire into these incidents and make recommendations on remedial steps and that based on the Committee’s report, the government would issue necessary orders on the defaulting companies.

“We will soon issue quality-centric guidelines for Electric Vehicles”, said the Union Minister assuring if any company is found negligent in their processes, a heavy penalty will be imposed and a recall of all defective vehicles will also be ordered.

He said that the companies, meanwhile, should take advance action to Recall all defective batches of vehicles immediately.

Gadkari assured that under the leadership of Narendra Modi, their government is committed to ensuring the safety of each and every commuter.

E-scooter fire in Telangana claims life of 80-year-old man, leaves two injured

The Union Minister’s statement came after reports emerged on Thursday, April 21, about how an EV battery explosion claimed one life and left two others injured in Hyderabad. The incident took place two days ago. The e-scooter was manufactured by Pure EV.

According to reports, the owners of the scooter had put the detachable battery on charge but it exploded after a few hours of charging.

Following the incident, the scooter manufacturer company and the dealer were booked under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 304A (causing death due to negligence). In his complaint, Prakash said that he had left the battery for charging around 12.30 am and it exploded around 4 am, injuring his 80-year-old father, mother and son. The father succumbed to injuries later, he said.

After the mishap, Pure EV has now decided to recall 2,000 vehicles belonging to models ETrance Plus and EPluto 7G in the wake of the latest fire incident involving its scooter in Nizamabad in Telangana and the earlier incident reported near Mathur toll plaza in Chennai in the last week of March.

Pure EV in a statement said that it is fully cooperating with the local authorities and seeking complete details from the users. “The vehicles and batteries therein shall undergo a thorough check for their health. We shall inspect the battery for any imbalance issues and shall calibrate through our device BaTRics Faraday (an AI-based hardware which can automatically identify and repair defects in Li-Ion batteries). Additionally the BMS and charger calibration shall be carried out as required,” read the Electric scooter manufacturer Pure EV’s statement.

Manufacturers of E-scooters recall vehicles after incidents of fire

This particular mishap was the latest amongst the string of such fire incidents that have been reported in the last few months. So far three Pure EV, one Ola Electric, two Okinawa and 20 Jitendra EV scooters have caught fire in about three weeks.

On April 18, it was reported that two-wheel EV maker Okinawa Autotech had also recalled 3,215 units of its Praise Pro scooter to fix any issues related to batteries. Okinawa had become the first electric vehicle manufacturer in India to voluntarily recall its e-scooters.

In a statement issued, the company had said that “the batteries will be checked for loose connectors or any damage and be repaired free of charge at any of the Okinawa authorised dealerships pan India.”

“The electric 2W maker is working closely with the dealer partners to ensure that the repair experience is as per the convenience of its customers, for which the vehicle owners will be contacted individually,” Okinawa added.

Okinawa e-scooters catch fire

The development had come weeks after a man and his thirteen-year-old daughter were killed when their Okinawa scooter caught fire on March 26 in Vellore, Tamil Nadu.

According to reports, at around 2 am on Saturday, an electric two-wheeler parked at the entrance of their house caught fire and later it spread to another bike, parked next to it. Police said after the two-wheelers caught fire, Durai and Mohana Preethi got trapped inside the house as the vehicles were blocking their way out. “They went inside the bathroom, but the smoke engulfed the house and both of them died of suffocation,” police sources said.

In October 2021, a video of a charred Okinawa electric made rounds on the net, however nobody was reported injured at that time.

Center orders probe after 40 electric scooters by Jitendra Electric caught fire in a transport container in Nashik

On April 11, the Central Government had ordered a probe after forty Jitendra Electric Vehicles (EV) electric scooters caught fire after being put into a transport container in Nashik. A government investigation has been authorised, and specialists have been enlisted to help with the investigation, which will look into the causes of the electric scooter fires.

Video surfaces showing Ola e-scooter bursting into flames

Similar video’s of Ola e-scooters bursting into flames have also emerged on social media platforms. In March, a video had surfaced showing Ola’s S1 Pro electric scooter on fire in Pune’s Lohegaon area. The e-scooter was parked on the roadside of a commercial area and engulfed in fire within seconds.

Reacting to the incident, the Ola co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said in a Tweet: “Safety is top priority. We’re investigating this and will fix it.” He had also shared the detailed statement issued by Ola wherein the Bengaluru based company had expressed regret over the Pune incident and said they were investigating to understand the root cause and will share updates in the next few days.

Ola e-scooters face other serious issues besides catching fire

The Ola manufactured e-scooters are, however, not just catching fire. Recently, Ola has been hit by a slew of complaints from its customers who had bought the new e-scooters S1 and S1 Pro which are priced at Rs 79,000 and Rs 1,09,999, respectively.

One of the customers took to his Twitter handle to share the photo of his Ola S1 Pro e-scooter being towed away. In the caption, he described the issue saying that his scooter was delivered just one day ago but developed issues in the headlight along with some peculiar noises. He had ridden the vehicle for just six kilometres.

Another Twitter user pointed out how his Ola e-scooter does not get fully charged.

A Twitter user named Balwant Singh also shared his son’s terrible experience with his new Ola e-scooter. The Twitter user slammed the company for providing faulty breaks while sharing photos of his injured son. The scooter had accelerated when the brake was applied at a speed breaker in Guwahati, causing the scooter to go airborne and then crash, seriously injuring his son.

One Agent Peenya had also shared his horrific experience with his Ola e-scooter. “I just pulled the scooter back and it activated Reverse mode.. When I accelerated further, it went in reverse direction. Further sharing his experience with the customer care department of the company, the Twitter user Tweeted, “I was so excited to own a next gen EV. But that reverse mode activation sent a chill down my spine. Worst product experience so far.”

While some others complained about the faulty turn indicators of their Ola e-scooters, which causes the wrong side turn indicator to blink, another social media user rued about the faulty battery indicator, which suddenly went from showing 32km to 0 km and stopped in the middle of an overbridge.

What do experts have to say on e-scooters catching fire?

While the exact causes of these fires are unknown, industry experts believe that rising temperatures in the country during summers and manufacturing defects, both in hardware and software, could be to blame for the incidents of the EV batteries catching fire.

It may be noted that EVs are powered by lithium-ion batteries, similar to those found in mobile phones and smartwatches, which are generally thought to be more efficient and light than their counterparts. However, as evidenced by recent incidents, they may also pose a fire risk.

According to a representative from an electric vehicle manufacturer, “While Li-ion batteries are better at working in warmer temperatures, extremely high temperatures could cause the battery pack’s ambient temperature to rise as high as 90-100 degrees.” This is when the batteries are very likely to start a fire.

In addition, electric cars and other devices have a battery pack that contains hundreds of batteries. Even if only a few Li-ion batteries fail and cause a short circuit, a fire can start. Because a battery pack contains a densely packed array of Li-ion cells, this can set off a chain reaction. This is known as a “thermal runway,” and experts believe it is the reason Li-ion batteries catch fire right away.

It is also notable that e-scooters made by only select companies are catching fire, and no such serious incidents have been reported by relatively established players in the segment like Ather and Hero, indicating that there might be issues with manufacturing process also.

Ather co-founder and CEO Tarun Mehta has said that many of the battery packs for electric vehicles imported into the country are not designed for Indian weather conditions. While several companies have stared making electric vehicles in India, the battery packs are mainly imported from China. Mehta said that these batteries are not suitable for Indian conditions.

In India, temperatures can reach 45 degrees, which can cause a battery fire. According to experts, more and more batteries must be produced locally and in accordance with Indian environmental standards in order to prevent such incidents.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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