Many low-cost EVs weren’t designed and examined for India’s brutal climate, writes Rishaad Mody.
EV fires appear to be the flavour of the season. It began off with a couple of remoted instances, gained a number of traction with the notorious Ola incident after which went to the subsequent stage with stories of container masses and showrooms stuffed with EVs bursting into flames, all throughout the final month or so.
Seemingly spontaneous vehicle fires are nothing new, and everybody from Italian exotics to mass market folks movers have been victims in some unspecified time in the future or the opposite. An in depth household buddy skilled this about 10 years in the past when their premium, petrol-powered Indian SUV burnt to a crisp on a freeway journey they usually have been simply in a position to escape with the garments on their again. However EV fires are a unique matter as a result of lithium-ion battery packs carry a brand new set of dangers.
So why are we all of a sudden seeing all these fires? It’s a easy matter of numbers, as a result of, for the primary time, EVs have reached a severe stage of scale. 2020 was the primary massive 12 months the place the 1 lakh EV two-wheeler gross sales mark was breached, and that quantity greater than doubled to 2.34 lakh items in 2021. Additionally, let’s not overlook that that is the primary 12 months comparatively free from pandemic fears and restrictions, which implies all these EVs at the moment are assembly their first Indian summer time en masse.
By now, you’ve in all probability learn all about why Li-ion batteries will be prone to overheating, the place the inner temperature and strain of the battery rises at a faster charge then will be dissipated. As soon as one battery cell goes into ‘thermal runaway’, it produces sufficient warmth to trigger adjoining battery cells to additionally go into thermal runaway. This produces a dramatic fireplace that may be very onerous to place out.
This battery pack overheating will be attributable to quite a few elements resembling electrical shorting, overcharging, use of the flawed charger, poor chemistry, poor design or insufficient cooling. Ather Vitality co-founder and CEO Tarun Mehta tells us that it largely comes all the way down to poor design and high quality management.
Right now’s Li-ion battery packs can have hundreds of tiny welds to attach all of the cells and a failure with even one could cause severe points. That is the place correct design and extremely excessive ranges of producing high quality management are important. Mehta says that even six sigma ranges of producing effectivity, which permits a most of three.four defects per million wouldn’t be ample right here.
In a market at the moment being flooded with low cost Chinese language-sourced EVs, we’re sure to be seeing a complete lot extra of this. Most of those low-cost EVs weren’t designed and examined for our brutal climate, they often include battery packs encased in low cost plastic (which doesn’t have the warmth dissipation functionality of aluminium) and a few of them are nonetheless hand assembled, all of which, Mehta says, are important points.
Nonetheless, it’s not all doom and gloom and a expertise transition as huge as that is sure to return with its, err, hiccups. The messy muddle of in a single day gamers within the EV house will naturally clear itself within the subsequent few years, particularly when the juicy subsidies are taken away. Till then, don’t let this spate of fires put you off an EV for those who’ve been considering of it. Simply take it as additional incentive to be sure you purchase one from a good firm with a confirmed monitor report.