A day after union minister for roads and highways, Nitin Gadkari suggested that mandatory recalls and stiff penalties would be the norm for organisations associated with scooter fires, Ola announced that it would be recalling 1,141 units of its S1 Pro model that are a part of the batch that caught fire last month.
An Ola Electric spokesperson said the recall is in line with the internal investigation instituted into the March incident in Pune where preliminary findings suggest that “the thermal incident was likely an isolated one.” It said it would conduct a detailed diagnostics and health check of the entire batch. The company also said its battery pack has been tested for India's AIS 156 standard, and is compliant with the European standard ECE 136. Ola is the third e-scooter maker to announce a recall after Okinawa Autotech and Pure EV.
The safety of electric scooters came into limelight once again when a battery being charged at home by a Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh, resident exploded killing him, and injuring his wife and child. This has raised serious questions regarding the safety of swappable batteries. The battery in this case was installed in a Boom Corbett 14, made by Coimbatore-based Boom Motors. The scooter was reportedly purchased a couple of days ago.
According to experts, many two-wheeler customers are buying electric scooters primarily opting for home charging as swapping is three times more expensive and costs between Rs 250 and Rs 500 per swap. They said the government’s proposed battery swapping policy announced 48 hours ago should address this challenge as customers return home after a day’s ride with batteries already heated, and if charged right away run the risk of the battery exploding.
Sohinder Gill, Director General for Society of Electrical Vehicle Manufacturers has gone on the record to say that “battery charging is much safer for the customer at a swapping station as it maintains an ambient temperature with air-conditioning”. He made these comments when the government announced its draft swapping policy two days ago.
Venkat Rajaraman, Founder & CEO, of Cygni Energy, a manufacturer of lithium-ion battery packs says, “ For swapping to work, either the station operator or the Batter-As-A-Service (BaaS) provider will need to ensure that a good quality battery pack is delivered. The vehicle’s designed should be compatible for swapping as well as for home charging.” Typically, owners of two wheelers opt for overnight charging in their home or office complexes and the infrastructure should be a slow-charging set up that is safe and scalable, he said.
The Vijaywada tragedy mirrors the Vellore incident where an Okinawa e-scooter, recently bought, caught fire when the customer kept it for charging in his parking lot. At the time of filing this report, no statement has been issued by Boom Motors.