Why Electric Scooters Are Catching Fire?
Published On 28-Apr-2022 14:58:43
Several incidents of electric scooters burning in the past week have clouded the enthusiasm of consumers and potential customers. We bring you the possible reasons behind these events.
Electric is the future! And looking at the skyrocketing sales of electric vehicles in the past six months or more, especially the two-wheelers, is a promising sign of the smooth transition of petrol/diesel-powered to green vehicles. However, what has happened in the past couple of weeks, could cast shadows on the future of electric vehicles, at least for a while.
There is a growing concern after several incidents of electric scooters burning witnessed across the country. It has shaken the EV industry, and at the end of the day, the consumers looking for a better alternative to petrol-powered scooters. So, why electric scooters are burning? We look into the possible reasons based on experts and stakeholders in the market.
Entry of new players without proper R&D
One of the biggest reasons, according to many experts, is the rushing of new entrants in the electric scooter segment without any proper homework. Established players typically simulate the various aspects and end-of-life conditions in their backyard for years before rolling out the final product. Although simulation and testing techniques are there, they need to be properly implemented.
India’s dependency on battery imports
Though many manufacturers are trying their best to localize the assembly of their products, it’s a fact that lithium-ion battery cells are made mostly in China, imported and assembled here to cut the cost. Moreover, Li-ion batteries come in different variations, packaging and chemistry, so the lack of quality checks and the poor battery management system is creating speed bumps for the EV manufacturers in India.
Overheating and vibrations
EV makers work closely with the battery and component manufacturers to provide the utmost safety to the vehicle and the rider. Many opines that overheating, extreme vibration and short circuits could be the primary causes of EVs catching fire. Batteries are manufactured using lithium, nickel and cobalt, with cobalt being highly flammable.
Though it is easy to blame scorching summer for electric scooters catching fire, most modern batteries automatically switch off at around 45-55°C. After this, thermal-based safety precautions kick in. But even if the safety precautions don’t automatically jump into action, batteries cannot heat themselves during normal operations by a huge margin. The only reason can be a short circuit that can lead to uncontrolled current and an increase in the temperature (thermal runaway) over 100°C.
And again, short circuits can be directly attributed to poor cell quality, which makes up a deadly combination with poor design and Battery Management System (BMS) algorithms, which shoulders the overall safety and efficiency.
The temptation of frequent fast charging
The science of lithium-ion batteries is pretty simple; they get heated up when used for an extended period or when frequently charged. And with the growing excitement about fast-charging technologies, frequent charging using these systems can be problematic for EVs. Using genuine accessories, parking under shade, monitoring overnight charging, proper ventilation and the external environment are other factors that need to be taken into consideration.
Last, but not the least, battery getting heated up, how they stay optimum and safe under extended operating temperature, and the cooling system are some of the things that need utmost attention to these issues. Companies are still trying to figure out the root cause, and after the recent government intervention in this matter, we hope slow and steady would win the race in the end.