Despite changes in battery testing norms following multiple fire incidents involving electric two-wheelers in the summer of 2022, safety concerns continue to plague India’s electric vehicle (EV) industry. In the most recent incident, a battery swapping station operated by Battery Smart caught fire on April 17, 2023, in Delhi’s Janakpuri area.
According to Battery Smart, the fire was caused by a suspected power surge that led to a short circuit in the facility. While most of the batteries shut down due to smart IoT sensors in each pack, two batteries overheated and caught fire. The fire quickly spread, causing damage to the property, but the fire brigade evacuated the building with no casualties.
This incident is not the first at a Battery Smart-operated facility, and the start-up has taken all the batteries from the affected lot out of circulation. The battery manufacturer is conducting an independent analysis of the fire incident, while Battery Smart is analyzing the past few days of IoT data from the impacted batteries to determine the cause.
The government implemented the Automotive Industry Standards (AIS) 156 and AIS 038 Rev.2 standards in two phases to prevent such fire incidents. The first phase began on December 1, 2022, and the next will begin on March 31, 2023. Only batteries manufactured and sold after April 1, 2023, are compliant with the new AIS standards. Older batteries in circulation may not be compliant and pose a significant safety concern.
The rise of EV adoption in India, particularly in the two- and three-wheeler categories, despite the fire incidents, is noteworthy. Electric two-wheeler registrations increased to 6.3 lakh units in 2022 from 1.5 lakh in the previous year, while electric three-wheeler registrations rose to 3.5 lakh units in 2022 from 1.6 lakh in 2021, according to Vahan data.
Battery Smart, which provides battery-as-a-service to electric two- and three-wheeler customers, currently has over 500 swapping stations across more than 17 cities, including Delhi-NCR, Kanpur, and Jaipur. The startup is backed by investors such as Tiger Global, Blume Ventures, and Orios Ventures.
To ensure safety, Battery Smart penalizes customers who cause physical damages to batteries while using and charging them. The startup also provides training to every customer before onboarding them, and every partner station goes through mandatory training, with rigorous audits for partner stations.
In conclusion, the incident at Battery Smart’s facility highlights the need for stricter safety measures in India’s EV industry. As EV adoption continues to rise, it is essential to prioritize safety to prevent any more fire incidents and ensure consumer confidence in the sector.