Naveen Munjal Believes Recent EV Fire Instances Are A Wake-Up Call For The Industry

EV Ultimo Team


Naveen Munjal Believes Recent EV Fire Instances Are A Wake-Up Call For The Industry

Emphasizing the issue-prone driving conditions in the country, Naveen Munjal said that India had several issues from soaring temperature to dust and from potholes et cetera. Lithium-ion batteries are known to be volatile and have to be handled delicately, particularly on Indian roads. Drawing a parallel, Munjal said, “For instance, we don’t leave our phones and computers out in the sun when it is peak summer, we keep them in a shade. Provided you manage the battery, whether in terms of the temperature or in terms of what chemistry you are using, it works brilliantly.”

Speaking to Moneycontrol, Munjal said that the problems with EVs would have to be addressed by appropriate testing and due diligence. He further added, “They’ve (the government) already got testing standards, which are good in ideal conditions but when you’re out, it’s anything but ideal. You can’t shortcut a lot of these things, which could lead to dangerous territory. So, I think this is a wake-up call for the industry to please get your act together and be responsible.” 

Naveen Munjal is also concerned that the recent spate of EV fires could lead to more stringent government controls and more curbs on the sector. He said, “The government may do some audits and come out with stronger standards in terms of thermal management and the testing that they do.” He, however, cautioned that any move to standardize the product could ‘curtail innovation.’

Amid numerous incidents of electric scooters catching fire, Hero Electric is testing a device that would send three levels of alarm for the scooter user if the battery temperature increases beyond the safety limit. The preventive device has been invented by Maker Max, a Canadian start-up, and can be easily affixed to the battery box, said a top executive at the company. The device is self-powered on a button cell and is incorporated with a thermal. This is specifically handy in the case of scooters that have portable batteries that can be easily removed and inspected.

The entire EV ecosystem will be studied, and once the designated team submits its report, the government is expected to issue fresh guidelines for testing standards, manufacturing, storage, and transportation. More regulations can be expected, especially for low-speed electric vehicles presently exempt from certification. The government is contending with companies, experts, and testing agencies to examine the remedial measures required to enhance EV safety.

Fires in electric vehicles (EVs) certainly gain a lot of media attention in comparison to their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. It doesn't help that the occurrence of EV fires can be unexpected, with research conducted by IDTechEx indicating that a third of EV fires occur when the vehicle is stationary, parked, and not charging. Regarding how common vehicle fires are, there have been several investigations on the matter. The blend of chemicals in the battery can prove extremely volatile and difficult to extinguish.

But a critical question for the future of e-mobility is whether electric vehicles are actually any more likely to catch fire than an ICE vehicle. The consensus seems to be that EVs catch fire much less often than ICE vehicles. When the types of fire-related recalls are investigated, we see that EVs are generally recalled for a battery short or manufacturing issue. If we look at hybrids and ICE vehicles these are often connected to fuel leaks.