Belated action: Amidst a flurry of fires in EV two-wheelers starting from the battery, BIS will unveil minimum operating standards for cells to be used in EV batteries | Photo: Transport and Environment

India: Government to set standards for EV batteries to ensure cell quality

The government of India announced that the country’s regulatory authority on industrial standards, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), will unveil standards to ensure that the cells used in EV batteries measure up to a minimum operational quality. The standards will be developed as a response to the recent spate of EV fires across the country, where preliminary investigations revealed that the manufacturers were not using grade-A cells in their vehicles, even though they used them during the vehicles’ certification tests. The standards will cover e2Ws first and e4Ws at a later stage, and will focus on the specifications for the cells’ connectors and sizes. 

Ambassador to be resurrected as an electric vehicle 

New reports indicated that one of India’s most widely used vehicles, Hindustan Motors’ Ambassador, will be resurrected as an electric car in the near future. The new vehicle will be co-developed by Hindustan Motors and French carmaker Peugeot, and its production will commence at the former’s Chennai plant. The joint venture between the two vehicles will first manufacture e2Ws, and Peugeot’s role in the partnership comes from its acquisition of the Ambassador brand name from Hindustan Motors for INR 80 crores (~USD 10.6 million). 

Italy: Automakers’ association says switching to EVs not the only way to curb emissions 

The head of Italy’s automotive association said in a statement that the EU’s goal of curbing the industry’s emissions by 100% by 2035 was not the only way to cut emissions, and that the bloc should instead focus on alternatives, such as hydrogen, synthetic fuels and biofuels. This, he said, would preserve the country’s know-how with the IC engine and still allow for a lower CO2 footprint. The statement also includes the assessment that if the Italian automakers were forced to switch to EVs, the country would lose 73,000 jobs (vs. gaining only 6,000 from the new technology), and put 450 of the 2,200 car parts manufacturers out of business. 

BNEF: Acute lithium shortage driving up prices, forcing EV manufacturers to raise prices

A new Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report found that the acute global shortage of lithium across the world had prompted its prices to jump by as much as 500% in the last year. The shortage is driven by rising demand for the metal — critical to current EV battery chemistries — while its production remains limited to the “lithium triangle” of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile in South America, and to the spodumene mines in Australia. The situation was forcing automakers, including Tesla and BYD Motors, to raise their cars’ sticker prices by as much as $1,000 and to get them to venture into mining the metal themselves. 

BNEF also stated that while major miners were trying to expand their lithium mining capacities at new locations, the resistance posed by local residents (in Serbia, Portugal and Nevada) had proved to be an obstacle. Also, bringing a new mine to commercial-grade operations was time-consuming, with it taking up to 10 years from lithium being first extracted at a site. This too had prevented countries like China from ramping up its production, even though it had recently discovered lithium deposits near Mt. Everest that could hold up to 1 million tonnes of the metal. 

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