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EV fire: Focus on safety, frequent testing of battery packs in real time conditions, say experts

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Experts said EVs need to give customers a list of dos and don'ts when it comes to keeping batteries safe. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must not brush the issue under the carpet and must recall batteries if there are safety concerns.

Amid multiple cases of electric two-wheelers catching fire, experts said there is a need to focus on safety and frequent testing of battery packs in realtime conditions. Experts added that one can understand any technology better only when tested and used in the real world.
"When we talk about electric vehicles (EVs), the battery is a critical tech component. It is important that there is good monitoring and safety surrounding the use of battery packs used in lithium-ion batteries, that has enabled e-mobility transition," said Rahul Walawalkar, President at Indi Energy Storage Alliance (IESA).
Also, Sohinder Singh Gill, chief executive of Hero Electric and director-general of the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), raised an important question on the measure to be taken on batteries in scooters that are already in customers' homes. "There is a need to decide whether to live with or recall battery packs that have already been sold to customers. Dealerships need to be equipped with resources to periodically check customers' batteries," he said.
Gill added that EVs need to give customers a list of dos and don'ts when it comes to keeping batteries safe. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must not brush the issue under the carpet and must recall batteries if there are safety concerns.
Backing Gill and Walawalkar, Som Kapoor, EY India, said that testing in real-life conditions over a period of time is important for any new technology. "We can understand any technology better only when tested and used in the real world," he said.
The government plans to impose heavy penalties and mandate recalls if EV companies are found to be negligent, as part of new "quality-centric" rules, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has said.
Gadkari had tweeted that the safety of every commuter is a priority for the government. "Several mishaps involving electric two-wheelers have come to light in the last two months. 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," Gadkari had said.
In recent weeks, there have been close to a dozen cases of e-scooters catching fire or being involved in them, including one made by SoftBank Group-backed Ola Electric, sparking safety concerns among some buyers.
Scooters involving Indian start-ups Okinawa and PureEV have also been involved in fire incidents.
The government has already launched an investigation into the fires and Gadkari said a committee of experts has been formed to make recommendations on remedial steps.
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