Govt admits to having erred in not going into details of safety management and quality issues, Auto News, ET Auto
With more than two dozen cases of fires in the batteries of electric scooters in the country over the last 6 months leading to at least 6 deaths, the government on Thursday told the industry to focus on quality of its products while admitting it erred in not doing enough to ensure adequate standards for safety and quality of electric vehicles.
“We are cognizant of the fact that we have had issues with the electric batteries, especially two wheelers,” said General (retd) V K Singh, the minister of state for road transport, highways and aviation. “There is a need for the industry, as well as all the others who are enforcing to ensure that the problems are sorted. From the ministry side we are taking actions to further lay down guidelines so that safety measures are adequate, and we do not have that type of incidents we have had in two wheelers in the recent past.”
“I think we have erred in not going into the details of what can be done, what type of regimen can come in so that safety management and quality issues can be taken together,” he added.
The first few instances of fire in EV batteries were reported in the autumn of last year but cases increased at the onset of summer this year. In late March, an Ola Electric S1 Pro scooter was caught on fire in Pune and in a tragic incident on the same day, a father-daughter duo died in Vellore in Tamil Nadu when the battery of his Okinawa scooter that was being charged inside the house caught fire. Two more incidents of fire were reported in Tamil Nadu in the month before 20 electric scooters from Jitendra EV caught fire while in transit in a container truck on April 9 near Nashik. Later, an explosion in the battery of an electric scooter by Coimbatore based Boom Motors killed a 40 year old man in Vijayawada.
These incidents have triggered a furious debate in the country on the safety of electric scooters and whether they are fit to withstand the Indian summer. Taking note of these incidents, the Road Transport Ministry has asked the Centre for Fire Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES) to investigate the cause of the fires and a report on the same is expected soon. CFEES is the defence laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Citing the example of how German companies lost out to their Japanese counterparts in the camera industry in the post World War II era, Singh said Indian companies need to not lose focus on quality in their bid to lower price. At the same time, he warned against premature rush to achieve scale in production.
“It is the quality and not mass production that will get you the customer,” he said. “It is upto you whether you want to capture the market or be left by the roadside. Your quality is going to make a difference in the sales and it will ensure that the customer doesnt look at anybody else.”