Burning issue: India's latest spate of EV fires has brought into focus the suitability of using li-ion batteries under high local temperatures, especially as the country heads into summer | Photo: Autobizz

Battery fires threaten to hinder India’s EV adoption

A father and daughter died of suffocation in Vellore, India, after their e-scooter broke out in flames while charging and engulfed the house in smoke. The vehicle was reportedly plugged into an old socket and the cause of the incident was traced to a short-circuit. The e-scooter was manufactured by Okinawa. 

The tragedy is part of a string of such incidents involving e-scooters in India—in Pune and Chennai, as well as 20 e-scooters catching fire near Nashik. The high ambient temperatures in the country are being considered as the probable cause and one of the manufacturers of the affected vehicles is Ola, which made headlines after unveiling the world’s largest electric scooter facility in India in 2021. Pure EV, the manufacturer of the other affected e-scooters, however, stated that its battery pack went through different phases before actually catching on fire, and that the company provides its customers with detailed manuals on the intricacies of the lithium-ion battery technology. The slew of incidents have forced manufacturer Pure EV to recall 2,000 units of two of its variants from the market in the first ever EV recall in India.

At the same time, India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Centre for Fire Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES) ordered an investigation into the incidents and has called for “early action” to remedy the issue. The central government has issued warnings of penalties on manufacturers who fail to guarantee the safety of their products and has instituted a special committee to look into the matter of fire safety in EVs. 

India & Australia tie up for lithium, cobalt mines

India signed a commitment to invest $6 billion with the Australian government to explore the latter’s lithium and cobalt deposits in the next six months of 2022. The deal was signed with Australia’s Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) and involves the exploration of greenfield and brownfield sites with some of the largest state-owned entities in India, including Hindustan Copper and National Aluminium Co. The deal is an extension to India’s efforts to secure deposits in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. 

Adani to install 1,500 charging stations, Ather partners with banks to offer EV financing 

Energy conglomerate Adani, through its city gas distribution entity Adani Total Gas, announced that it would install 1,500 EV charging stations across India. The first charger was installed at its Maninagar CNG station in Ahmedabad. Also, Ather Energy, one of India’s most popular electric two-wheeler manufacturers, announced that it has partnered with IDFC First Bank and HDFC Bank to afford financing for its customers. The loans will be disbursed instantly at low interest rates, and the offering comes at a time when Tata Motors has reported that li-ion battery prices have surged by 20% due to the global surge in the demand and prices of lithium. 

Govt of India releases winners of PLI Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) battery storage scheme

The Govt of India released the list of winners for its Production-linked Incentive (PLI) scheme on Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) battery storage, according to which Reliance New Energy Solar Limited, Hyundai Global Motors Company Limited, Ola Electric Mobility Private Limited and Rajesh Exports Limited will cumulatively manufacture 50GWh in storage capacity. The manufacturing facilities will need to come up within the next two years and the government will support the production with a budget of $18,000 crores to gradually lower the levelised cost of domestic battery manufacturing. 

Most importantly, the selected firms will be free to choose the technology and the raw material to achieve their targets.