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E-Scooters Exploding Like Diwali Bombs

What’s the thing to buy while shopping for a two-wheeler?

The straight answer will be to pick a stylish and trendy new electric scooter. And the buyers are spoilt for choice. Their eco-friendly and green energy motorbikes flooded the market with at least 20 unique brands. Some of these EV scooters are from reputed legacy motorbike manufacturers like Bajaj Auto and Hero MotoCorp, and TVS, but most are from new-age start-ups. A new word coined by the MD of Bajaj Motorcycles, Mr. Rajeev, was “OATS,” which stands for Ola –Ather- Tork-SmartE.

Consumers of two-wheelers, especially millennia, prefer buying these same new ages and intelligent electric vehicle scooters from Ola, Ather, Okinawa, to name a few. The current crisis in Ukraine and the oil prices zooming up in the Indian market have further pushed the traditional two-wheeler buyer to go for electric vehicles. As a result, huge investments went into the EV manufacturing plants.

But the flip side to the glamour story is that most of these electric vehicle manufacturers import the Li-Ion or Sodium-Ion battery and power train required for converting the electric energy to power to drive these electric vehicles. The sole manufacturing of these battery and power circuits happens in China, and the quality is low.

Thus, there has been lots of news of EV scooters getting heated up and, in some cases, catching fire while driving.

The Scary Incidents

It is not just the case with small-time electric vehicle scooters, but brands like Ola and Okinawa have faced the brunt of this faulty technology.

  • Some days back, there was bad publicity for Ola S1 Pro electric vehicle scooters catching fire. One of their customers in Pune had such an experience when his all-new Ola S1 Pro burst into flames. A video made by him went viral. At first, Ola management’s standard response was a technical issue, and their team would look into it.
Pic courtesy: https://www.financialexpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Ola-Electric-Scooter-Fire.jpg
  • A similar incident happened with an Okinawa EV two-wheeler when a customer in Tirupur in Tamil Nadu had to see his two-wheeler go up in flames.
  • There were other incidents of battery bursting while transporting such electric two-wheelers with Jitendra New EV tech’s two-wheeler.
Pic courtesy: https://www.moneylife.in/media/uploads/article/responsive/Jitendrabig11apiril2022.jpg
  • Another brand that got into the news is the Pure EC scooter getting burnt again in Pune.
Pic courtesy: https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/two-wheelers/scooters-mopeds/recent-ev-fire-in-tn-heres-what-really-happened/91246832

GOI in Action

  • Looking at these safety hazards, the GOI constituted an expert team from IISC and the Center for Fire Explosives& Environmental Safety to investigate these issues in Vellore, Nasik, Pune & Tirupur.
  • The electric vehicle two-wheeler manufacturers also stated in the press that they would investigate the matter.
  • Due to the increase in such incidents, Nitin Gadkari, the cabinet minister of roadways and highway transport, openly asked the leading electric vehicle two-wheeler manufacturer to recall their faulty scooters and have them examined and rectified.
  • Ola recalled 1441 of its S1 Pro electric vehicle two-wheelers in April. Similarly, Okinawa had to recall 3215 of its Praise Pro electric vehicle two-wheelers from the market to get its battery and circuits checked and replaced.

Reasons for EVs catching Fire

So why are these electric vehicle two-wheelers catching fire?

  • The most common theory is the country’s rising high temperatures, making the Li-Ion battery packs get ruptured.
  • The other reason is that not the EV two-wheeler manufacturers give enough thought to cooling the vehicle.
  • Poor cell quality- Since most of these batteries are imported and assembled in India, the quality itself of the battery is terrible. Also, to cut back on space, the anodes, cathodes, and separators are fitted in proximity which is a safety and non-regulatory conformance.
  • Poor design – The battery and the powering up circuits have an improper design to reduce the space in the engine compartment. This leads to short circuits, and then the battery blows ups.
  • No BMS – Such electric vehicle two-wheelers require state-of-the-art BMS systems with very accurate sensors to sense any temperature anomalies while charging these two-wheelers. Low-grade BMS has been the main pain point of the electric vehicle heating up, and the user does not know the exact status of his wheeler.

Remedies

  • As suggested by the team from IISC, some remedies are to fit the battery now while transporting these electric vehicle two-wheelers.
  • The user can charge the battery to 80-90% of the total charge and watch the BMS for any sudden temperature rise in the battery pack.
  • Another solution is to opt for a swappable battery-based electric two-wheeler like Infinity EV from Bounce.

Is your electric two-wheeler giving you sleepless night? Then, contact the manufacturer immediately via email and phone for record keeping and follow up on replacement or repair. The next step you may need to take would be to file a case in the consumer courts to get redressed.

The Government of India is now contemplating strict guidelines for their testing and quality control before being rolled on the road. Till that happens, be alert and safe. As they say, the buyer beware of the caveat.

Disclaimer: This article was prepared or accomplished by it's author in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Motorbikes India or it's owners.

The views and opinions expressed on this web site are soley those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Steve Gerweck, the GERWECK.NET staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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