Defective battery cells, modules that are likely to cause an electric scooter fire in India initial probe finds
According to the findings of the initial federal investigation, defective cells and battery modules have been identified in recent weeks as the main cause of burns on electric scooters in India, two government sources told Reuters.
The investigation investigated fires with three companies, including Ola Electric, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group, which was the country’s best-selling electric scooter in April.
“In the case of Ola, the problem was found to be the battery cells, as well as the battery management system,” said one of the sources who knew the report directly.
In March, India launched a safety investigation into a series of electric scooter fires, including one in which a man and his daughter died when their electric bicycle “burned”.
India wants electric scooters and electric bicycles to account for 80% of total two-wheel sales by 2030, compared to 2% today. However, security concerns threaten consumer confidence and could hamper growth in a sector that is key to the country’s carbon reduction goals.
“The government has taken cell samples from all three companies for further testing,” the man said, noting that the final report of the investigation is expected in about two weeks.
Ola, who purchases her articles from LG Energy Solution (LGES) in South Korea, says she is working with the government on this issue and has appointed an external expert agency and is also conducting her own research.
“Based on the preliminary assessment of these experts, there was no failure in the Ola battery management system and it is probably an isolated thermal incident,” a company spokesman said in a statement.
“The report of the Indian government has not yet been published or shared with us. We cannot comment on the report because we do not yet know the cause of the March incident on the Ola scooter, “said Seoul-based LGES in a statement to Reuters.
On April 18, a member of the LGES board in India, Prashant Kumar, told Reuters that the company and Ola were “cooperating in the unfortunate incident and trying to understand the root cause.”
The government investigation is also investigating branded incidents involving scooters manufactured by Indian startups Okinawa and PureEV. In the case of Okinawa, there was a problem with the battery cells and modules, and in the case of PureEV, it was a battery case, said the first source.
PureEV and Okinawa did not respond to a request for comment, but said they were investigating the fire and returned some scooters.
The first findings of the investigation forced the government to test battery cells in electric scooters before they were launched, a second source said. India is now testing batteries, but not cells that are mostly imported from South Korea or China.
“If India decides to test cells, it must build infrastructure and skills,” the man said.