Electric vehicles with massive batteries have always been a fire hazard. However, with the development in technology, electric vehicles catching fire has become quite rare nowadays. Recently, videos of two electric scooters catching fire and billowing think smoke became viral on the Internet. Here is what happened.
With the popularity of electric vehicles rising in India, there are many new manufacturers that are operating in India. The blue scooter in the video is built by Pure EV, a start-up based in Hyderabad. Pure EV is a two-year-old start-up incubated by IIT Hyderabad.
Also read: Tata Nexon goes off roading in the Himalayas (Video)
The video recorded by the onlookers shows thick smoke coming out of the battery compartment that is located under the seat of the scooter. After billowing thick smoke for about a minute, a fire starts to spurt out of the scooter and engulfs the whole vehicle. It sure looks very scary, especially for a technology that will be a lot more common in the future.
A second clip also became viral after a few hours of the first clip. Even the second clip shows the same model of the scooter in silver colour catching fire. ETAuto reached Pure EV but the manufacturer did not respond.
What went wrong?
Primarily, the quality of the batteries. Even though electric vehicles are much simpler in construction due to the lower number of moving parts, the safety of the vehicle totally depends on the quality of the batteries and how efficient is the cooling system and the battery management system are.
Most lithium-ion battery packs used in electric vehicles in India are imported from China and are not manufactured in India. While the established vehicle manufacturers are yet to commit to the electric vehicle growth in India, new inexperienced manufacturers have entered the market.
With the rising demand for electric vehicles in India, new manufacturers are trying to take every opportunity possible. The sales are expected to double from 1.5 lakh units of electric vehicles sold in the Indian market last year.
“The key is to ensure the robustness of design and construction and not trading it off for cost. Rushing to grow the market will lead to risk. Regulations must be established,” said Ravi Bhatia, President, Jato Dynamics. “The phenomenon is a thermal runaway, an uncontainable exothermic reaction that can occur inside a lithium-ion battery when it is damaged or short-circuited. A lithium fire is difficult to extinguish. Immediately upon contact with water, it produces hydrogen gas and lithium-hydroxide. Hydrogen gas is a significant obstacle due to its extreme flammability. Because lithium reacts with water to create a flammable gas, pouring water on a lithium fire is often counterproductive and very, very dangerous,” Bhatia added. “In the instance of a leaking lithium-ion battery, exposure to air or moisture can even produce hydrofluoric acid, which is highly toxic and can severely irritate the eyes and lungs.”
Also read: Tata Hornbill HBX micro SUV: What its electric version will look like