When a company launches something new in the market, it faces two risks. The first one is whether that product will be accepted by people or not. In the case of electric scooters, that risk was eliminated since people are proactive towards any initiative claiming that it will reduce global warming. The second risk of it being safe for consumers was another one. It is here that Ola and other EV manufacturers failed. Its preparations for the launch of electricity vehicle suggest that it had no problems with people getting roasted on their electric vehicles.
MoRTH report on EVs is out
According to a report by The Economic Times, Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry, currently led by Nitin Gadkari has found that the companies did not follow their due diligence before launching electric scooters in the market. MoRTH had set up an expert panel to investigate the causes of burning electric scooters. The panel found that the companies did not put a venting mechanism in place in case the scooter gets overheated.
Lack of due diligence
Most the electric vehicles are run on Lithium-ion battery packs. These batteries do work well in warm environments, but when the storage temperature gets over 90-100 degrees Celsius, they can easily catch fire. Normally, customers do not have an exact idea of these kinds of basic rules of the thumb. They are simply told to not overcharge, but not the elaborative reason for it. Due to this, they tend to be careless. However, companies need to foresee these risks and make apt arrangements to minimize it.
But, in the case of electric vehicles, they seemed to be in too much of a hurry to occupy the vacant marketplace. The panel found out that even the battery management system (BMS) installed in these vehicles is deficient. BMS helps in overcharging and overheating the vehicles. BMS are compulsorily required to follow guidelines set by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI). The panel explicitly castigated Companies for using ‘shortcuts’ instead of prioritizing vehicle safety. These companies did the bare minimum to not invite regulatory wrath and just launched their electric vehicles in the market.
An official cited by The Economic Times said, “Companies have already been told that many of the EV two-wheeler manufacturers have taken shortcuts. Their cells have failed the tests. In several cases, the venting mechanism is not there. They are bursting and catching fire. They are mainly poor-quality cells.”
Poor Battery Management System
In fact, they had not put in place a system to even identify failure or overheating of cells. Additionally, no mechanism has been put in the place to identify failed batteries and isolate them, so that one bad apple does not end up corroding the pack. “The battery management system is not even basic. A particular battery, when it’s getting overheated, must be identified and cut off. This is, in fact, what even a minimum functional BMS will do. These electric vehicles didn’t even have that basic identification system for failed cells.” added the official.
Choosing money over human life
Earlier this year, the spade of electric vehicles burning engulfed the positive sentiments around the emergence of electric vehicles as a viable alternative to petrol and diesel ones. First such incident was reported on March 26, when an electric scooter was found burning in Pune. Later on more such videos started to emerge and according to an estimate by The Times of India, around 2 dozen such incidents were reported from all over India.
Initially, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) were tasked with investigating electric two-wheeler fire incidents by the Road Transport and Highway Ministry. In its preliminary investigation, DRDO found out that companies such as Ola Electric, Okinawa Autotech, Pure EV, Jitendra Electric Vehicles, and Boom Motors used lower-grade materials. It was done to cut costs. Judging by their actions, it will suffice to say that importance of money trounces the importance of human lives for these greedy corporates.
Substandard inputs result in substandard products
Profiteering is a motive, but it is also important to note that these companies are in the race of getting their monopolistic hold on the market. More than 0.32 million EVs were sold in the year 2021, a year-on-year increase of 168 percent. The market is expected to grow by a CAGR of 36 percent. Additionally, Indian consumer spending is increasing which gives further encouragement to companies for investing in EVs. Modi government’s PLI scheme added another layer of credence.
Companies seem to have thought that they have got freehand and need to do only the basics. But, you can’t escape reality, simply because it is the reality. The substandard equipment in manufacturing process will result in a substandard product. This is the basic thumb rule of business. Unfortunately, in their blind race, EV companies forgot the basics. They are at fault for this regulatory sword over them.
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