Indian electric vehicle industry came out in full support of the new government regulations on additional battery safety requirements related to battery cells, onboard chargers, designs of the battery pack, and thermal propagation that will become mandatory from 1st October.
"Based on the recommendations of the expert committee report, the ministry on August 29, 2022, has issued an amendment to AIS 156- Specific requirements for motor vehicles of L category with electric power train, and amendment 2 to AIS 038 Rev. 2 - Specific requirements for Electric Power Train of motor vehicles of M category and N category (motor vehicle with at least four wheels used for carrying goods which may also carry persons in addition to the goods)," the release said.
The new regulations impact L category motor vehicles are those with less than four wheels and are a quadricycle while M category vehicles are at least four wheels used for carrying passengers.
"The notification to mandate amended AIS 156 and AIS 038 Rev.2 standards for the respective categories of electric vehicles with effect from October 1, 2022, is in progress," it said.
Sohinder Gill, Director General, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, and CEO, Hero Electric commenting about the policy stated that it’s a well-thought policy and most of the points are relevant for the Indian Ecosystem. “The industry and the policymakers have now to sit down and agree on a framework of implementation in the short and medium term as some of the crucial points will take months of development and testing before starting mass production,” Gill said.
The transport ministry has issued a draft notification for mandating conformity of production (CoP) for traction batteries used in electric power train vehicles. Once approved, this will ensure that EV makers and battery manufacturers stick to making vehicles that have been approved by testing agencies.
Anant Nahata, MD, Exicom is of the view that these amendments will help pave the way for Indian consumers to get safer and high-quality EVs. “The battery safety recommendations by the expert committee will ensure that EV batteries operate safely under various conditions, including water ingress, over-voltage, and other abnormal conditions. The thermal propagation test and pressure release vent will reduce the instances of thermal runaway. Overall this is a very positive move and we believe this will instill confidence in consumers and alleviate safety concerns.” Nahata explained.
In April this year, cases of electric two-wheelers of manufacturers such as Ola Electric, Okinawa Autotech, and PureEV catching fire were reported. It prompted the government to form a panel to examine the reason for the fires. Subsequently, Ola Electric recalled 1,441 units of its electric two-wheelers. Okinawa also announced its recall of 3,215 units of its Praise Pro electric scooter to fix any issue related to batteries. Similarly, Pure EV recalled 2,000 units of its ETrance+ and EPluto 7G models.
Commenting on the additional battery safety norms, Samrath Kochar, Founder & CEO of Trontek shared, “The announced norms are definitely stricter but important in the current scenario where safe EVs are a concern. These norms are adopted from the UN R100 Rev 2-Part-1 standards (A United Nations regulations requirement for electric vehicles). As the rules get strict, the testing criteria to pass them will be very difficult and only companies with good R&D and testing standards will be able to qualify. All the amendments are in the interest of end users and will only help in making way for India in becoming a leading EV market in the world.”
Ministry of Road transport and highways( MoRTH) had constituted an expert committee, chaired by ARCl Hyderabad director Tata Narsingh Rao, Centre for Fire, Explosive & Environment Safety (CFEES) scientist M K Jain, Indian Institute of Science principal research scientist Subba Reddy and IIT Madras professor Devendra Jalihal as members to recommend additional safety requirements in the existing battery safety standards notified under CMV Rules.
Welcoming the government's team of experts' findings Harshvardhan Sharma, head of auto retail practice at Nomura Research Institute said that the enhanced safety measures introduced in the policy bear a strong commitment from Indian regulators toward improving consumer safety. “As we are at the breakout zone of EV penetration in India, it is primal that consumer confidence stays protected in the EV story which Incidents of safety “
Taking the EV fire accidents into consideration, road transport and highways Minister Nitin Gadkari in April warned companies of penalties if they were found to be negligent and said they would be ordered to recall the defective vehicles.