Amid growing concerns over safety issues around electric vehicles (EVs) owing to multiple fire incidents recently, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Wednesday said that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) should voluntarily recall the batches that have been involved in the recent accidents.
Citing a few examples of similar cases, Kant said Ford, BMW, Volvo, among others, had also recalled vehicles over fire risk which helped in creating a sense of confidence in consumer. "Industry should voluntarily recall their batch," said Kant in an exclusive interview with CNBC-TV18.
At least five incidents of fire on EVs have been reported in the last two weeks.
Forty electric scooters of Jitendra Electric Vehicles, a venture of the Shah group, caught fire in a transport container in Nashik on Saturday, the company told CNBC-TV18 on Monday.
A fire incident took place on March 26 involving the S1 Pro model of Ola Electric in Dhanori area of Pune and another involving Praise Pro model of Okinawa in Tamil Nadu's Vellore.
On March 28, an incident was reported from Trichy in Tamil Nadu while another was reported on March 29 in Chennai where an electric scooter from Pure EV caught fire.
Kant insisted that batteries of EVs need special attention as they are "complex in terms of manufacturing and maintenance". "Manufacturing of cells isn't regulated... Battery management system needs to be strengthened. There has be a clear partnership between battery manufacturing and battery management," he added.
Currently, all lithium-ion cells are imported in India.
Kant said that India has the world's stringent testing standards and that manufacturers should ensure that all batteries are certified with them.
"We have stringent testing standards but OEMs need to certify batteries adhere to standards," he said.
He, however, assured "there is nothing to panic" saying that every transition, across the world, has had its own challenges. "As technology matures, there is learning curve of electric vehicle," added Kant.
On the probe into the recent EV fire incidents in the country, Kant said that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is examining all issues and will take the best possible measures to ensure there are no more such cases in future. He added that the ministry team is also interacting with the OEMs involved in the incidents.
The government will take stringent measures based on the investigation report of the technical committee examining the cases, he said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government think tank has also warned the industry about cutting corners, saying that the recent fire incidents are a wake up call. It also batted for recall of vehicles. "New technology, OEMs should not be cutting corners," said Jasmine Shah, Vice Chairman, Dialogue and Development Commission, Delhi government, adding that the industry needs "to address the issue or customers will lose confidence."
Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, while speaking in Lok Sabha on the EV fire cases on March 31, had said that the incidents may have taken place due to higher temperature. He, however, had said that reports from expert committee were awaited for a final conclusion on the cause behind the fire.
"This is a very serious issue and we have ordered forensic investigation into each individual event," said Gadkari, adding that the government will take appropriate action after the exact technical reason behind the accidents is known.