India’s Electric Vehicles market suffered a blow when news of EV fires engulfed the rising industry. In another shocking incident, an entire two-wheeler EV showroom in Madhya Pradesh busted into flames.
Such incidents and more led to the government intervening in the matter and launching a probe. Apart from that, it did make EV enthusiasts ask questions about the safety and credibility of electric vehicles.
However, the fact that is intriguing in itself is the point that most of the EVs in question are two-wheelers.
There haven’t been any such instances in the recent past, about the EV cars catching fire. So, are there any specific reasons that might be leading to such a phenomenon? Let us find out more about EV fires in India.
Is the Weather To Be Blamed?
As electric two-wheeler vehicles around the country started catching fire, many were to blame the rising temperatures around the country’s ongoing heatwave as the reason.
However, the experts have ruled out the summer heat as the reason behind the rising cases of EVs catching fire in India. There is a list of other factors that lead to the rising cases of EV batteries catching fire.
In order to understand the prime reason behind EV fires in India, you need to understand the concept of Thermal runaway.
What’s Causing EV Fires in India?
A thermal runaway is a process in which the battery heats up exponentially, resulting in a spike in the heat. This can cause a thermal runaway incident, causing a fire in a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery.
According to experts, li-ion cells need to reach a few hundred degrees Celsius in temperature, before any such incident takes place.
Hence, it isn’t entirely the weather’s role. A battery with a robust thermal design can withstand temperatures around 45 to 55 degrees Celsius before the thermal-based precautionary switch kicks in to bring the temperature down.
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Should You Be Worried About Recent EV Fire Incidents?
According to research from AutoInsuranceEZ, out of 100,000 EV sales, only 25 ended up catching fire, which stands at 0.025%. The number is far low than hybrid and fuel-based internal combustion-engined cars, which stands at more than 1% for both categories.
The EV industry has been on a rise in India and around the world too. While the recent incidents might have raised questions, there are instances of good statistics and facts to take into consideration. Another study, which was conducted over an 8 year period, concluded that there were less than 10 Tesla cars catching fire every year on an average.
Hence, if you’re going for your first EV, the time might actually be right to experiment and go for one.
Precautions & Safety Features in an EV
EV car manufacturers have been working on ensuring that their electric vehicles are safe to use and easy to ride.
Lithium-ion cells in the EV battery packs require some degree of precautions. While there are certain precautions, one takes around fuel-based IC engine cars too, electric car manufacturers ensure that safety measures are in place in the vehicles. Here are some of those.
Battery isolation is a step that’s taken by EV manufacturers to isolate the battery pack as much as possible from the EV passengers. The battery management system in an EV monitors the condition continuously, including the factors such as temperature, to take appropriate action accordingly.
The battery pack shells are made of sturdy (IP 65 - IP 68) materials, providing protection against dust and water, and preventing any hampering in the battery’s functioning.
Adding to the list of safety features is a built-in fail-safe mechanism that enables the battery pack to cut the power off in an event of a short circuit.
So, Are EVs Safe in India?
The loud and clear answer to this would be YES.
Electric vehicles have come a long way in India and around the world. While the technology might be considered technically nascent when compared with IC engines, the amount of progress and technological progress it has made in recent years is hard to fathom.
As EV manufacturers increase their offering in the Indian markets, safety is one of the major aspects that should grab their attention. The EV battery fire cases we saw in recent years are more of an issue from a quality and final inspection point of view, rather than how EV batteries are usually designed.
Manufacturers should ensure that thorough and rigorous testing should be conducted before the EVs are delivered to their final customers.
The road to a bright EV future is long, but we’re reaching there gradually.