Sunday, Jul 03, 2022

Why Is Ola Electric CEO So Casual About EV Fires In India?

In April, Ola Electric had recalled 1,441 units of its electric two-wheelers amid fire incidents in e-scooters

File Photo: Ola EV scooter catches fire in Pune

Amid reports of electric vehicles, especially electric scooters catching fire in different parts of the country, a surprising statement has come from Ola founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal who on Thursday Tweeted that electric vehicles (EV) will catch fire and that it happens in vehicles made by international companies as well.

This comes after a Tata Nexon EV caught fire in Mumbai’s Vasai.

"EV fires will happen. Happens in all global products too. EV fires are much less frequent than ICE fires," the Ola chief tweeted, sharing a video in which Tata’s Nexon EV is seen engulfed in flames on a busy road in Vasai. 

However, this is not the first time Aggarwal has taken a dig at EV critics on social media. He had earlier also indulged in a war of words with several people on Twitter.

A few months ago, Aggarwal had shared a photo of an electric car in a tweet, giving indications about the company’s new electric vehicle (EV).

But some people asked him to fix the issues with Ola electric scooters. Following this,  Aggarwal shared a picture of Burnol with the hashtag “#petrolmedia”.

In the past few months, Ola Electric and several other Electric two-wheeler makers are facing scrutiny over EV fire incidents in the country. Some have even recalled their vehicles.

In April, Ola Electric had recalled 1,441 units of its electric two-wheelers.

“Our internal investigation into the March 26 vehicle fire incident in Pune is ongoing and the preliminary assessment reveals that the thermal incident was likely an isolated one. As a pre-emptive measure, we will be conducting a detailed diagnostics and health check of the scooters in that specific batch and therefore are issuing a voluntary recall of 1,441 vehicles,” it said.

The company said the recalled units will be inspected by its service engineers and will go through a diagnostics check across all battery, thermal and safety systems.

Ola said its battery pack already complies with and is tested for AIS 156, the latest proposed standard for India, in addition to being compliant with the European standard ECE 136.

Meanwhile, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) under the union consumer affairs ministry has issued a notice to Ola Electric over the recent electric scooter fire incidents.

The CCPA has given Ola Electric 15 days to reply to the notice. 

The consumer watchdog had earlier issued notices to Pure EV and Boom Motors last month related to electric scooter fires.

Amid several incidents of electric vehicles catching fire, the government also stepped in and warned the companies.

In April, taking cognisance of repeated incidents, union transport minister Nitin Gadkari said the government will announce 'quality-centric' guidelines for EV manufacturers while also warning them of penalties in case of negligence.

The minister also advised EV companies to act responsibly by identifying and recalling defective batches.

"Several mishaps involving electric two-wheelers have come to light in the last two months. It is most unfortunate some people have lost their lives and several have been injured. We have constituted an expert committee to enquire into these incidents and make recommendations on remedial steps. Based on the reports, we will issue necessary orders on the defaulting companies," Gadkari said.

But not just the government, even the auto industry veterans have slammed the new EV companies, questioning their underlying “process of manufacturing.”

Bajaj Auto Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj earlier this month said the people who have no business being in the business of EVs are trying to be in this space.

"The issue is not the fire itself. This (such incidents) happened in the vehicles with internal combustion engines as well. The issue is the underlying process of the manufacturing," he said.

"what concerns me more is the environment that has promoted this mad whole rush. Why are people who have no business to be in the business of EVs trying to get into the business? This must be fixed. Maybe, if I can say so, the relevant authorities in the government have diluted norms for EVs,” he added.

"Under the guise of low-speed vehicles you can bring any chunk of vehicles from anywhere and put it on the road. You will not have these scooters catching fire? What do you expect," he asked.