Electric vehicles may not be popular in India, however, there are clear signs that the market for electric vehicles is growing. According to Businesswire, the electrical vehicles industry in India is predicted to generate USD 152.21 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 94.4 per cent between 2021 and 2030.
The rising popularity of electric vehicles is prompting the leading automotive manufacturers to launch electric vehicles in India, which is anticipated to create growth opportunities for the market in the country.
Having said that, Indian electric vehicle users are concerned after many incidences of electric vehicles catching fire. These occurrences became a significant source of worry for major electric vehicle companies and their users. While some have blamed the fires on the increasing temperatures due to Indian summers, others blamed the electric vehicle battery’s weak temperature control technology.
So, the real question is – “Why are electric vehicles igniting in India?”
Are hot summers to blame for these fire incidences of electronic vehicles?
Despite the fact that hot weather conditions and ineffective thermal management technologies can reduce the functionality and affect battery power, they do not cause fires.
Industry experts suggested that we must consider the packing and building of the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. Electric vehicles are fueled by Li-ion batteries, that are compact yet effective. They do, however, constitute a fire danger.
Common assumptions, like the Indian summers and inadequate thermal protection, really aren’t the cause of (flame breakouts). As per Exponent Energy, an electric vehicle tech firm, “the frequent fires caused are the consequence of thermal runaway.” Exponent Energy stated that li-ion cells must hit a few hundred degrees prior to actually experiencing overheating.
The batteries are designed to shut off automatically if they reach 45-55°C. Even if this mechanism does not activate, there will not be a thermal runway just for the reason that the batteries can never reach such high temperatures during their usage under normal conditions.
A short circuit is required for the lithium battery to reach a temperature that induces fire. Many of the electric vehicles that burst into flames had a far more temperature-sensitive battery chemistry known as NMC. To employ a more temperature-sensitive battery, no design precautions were made at the battery packing stage to assure effective thermal cooling. Fire suppression components were not present within these vehicles since they would incur added costs, space, and weight requirements. Many manufacturers adopt shortcuts only to save money and increase battery range, then market these devices without making all of the necessary technical decisions.
According to Tarun Mehta, creator of Ather Energy, companies aren’t really devoting significant effort to designing goods, and testing criteria imposed by government agencies may be insufficient to adequately evaluate all real-life conditions.
Poor cell quality is another source of short-circuiting in the battery. Due to flaws in battery production, the anode and cathode get accidentally connected, short-circuiting the current’s normal course. This is what ultimately starts a fire.
However, in cases of short circuits, they also emit combustible gases, a reaction known as cell venting, which reduces the likelihood of a thermal runaway. As much as bad cell quality, the battery packaging does have the greatest impact on safety. Battery packaging relates to how manufacturers construct the cells, electrically connect them, and keep them together.
Although an electric vehicle comprises high-quality cells that are very well packaged, fires might still arise because of overcharging.
– Stop trying to charge the electric vehicle’s battery right after the electric vehicle stops running because the li-ion cells of the battery continue to stay hot for some time. Allow the batteries to rest for the temperatures to come down before charging it.
– Just use the battery and charging cord that is specifically created for the vehicle. Using a low-priced charger may pose a risk to the electric vehicle.
– If it is a separable battery, keep it away from direct heat or sunlight and hot automobiles, & keep it in well-ventilated spaces. Purchase new batteries and chargers that are compatible and originate from the original developer or an approved supplier.
– Examine the battery for damage prior to use on a regular basis, so if you find any, discontinue using it and notify the supplier. Never use the battery if it is excessively hot or has any visible damage.
With an increase in the number of electric vehicle fire incidents, the government has taken action. Following the findings of an expert panel appointed to investigate the situation, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari stated that the manufacturers found culpable would be prosecuted and a return of all faulty vehicles will be issued.
According to the Road Transport Ministry, the Centre for Fire Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES) was tasked with investigating the conditions that contributed to the occurrence and recommending necessary actions. The government also requested that CFEES share the results as well as its recommendations for preventing such events. In addition to this, the Indian think tank Niti Aayog also released a tentative battery replacing guideline for electric cars, along with benefits and a stringent testing procedure for replaceable batteries.
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