Disclosure of the causes of electric bike fires in India

A federal investigation in India has identified the main cause of the burning of a number of electric bikes in recent weeks, after identifying faulty battery cells and modules.

The preliminary federal investigation examined bike combustion incidents from 3 companies, including India’s “Ola Electric” backed by the Japanese SoftBank Group, which made the best-selling bike in India last April, as well as Okinawa and Pure EV.

Federal authorities found faulty battery cells in the burnt Ola bike, which they considered the main cause of the problem, as well as the battery management system, according to Reuters, citing sources.

Safety Concerns

first indian
President and Founder of Ola Bhvish Agarwal, India

In March, India launched an investigation into safety concerns after a series of electric bike fires, including one that killed a man and his daughter, when their bike caught fire.

India is working to make electric and e-bikes 80% of total bicycle sales by 2030, from about 2% currently, but concerns about security and safety threaten consumer confidence and could derail growth in a sector that is key to the country’s carbon-reducing goals.

The government has taken samples from the three companies’ bicycle battery cells for further testing, and the final investigation report is expected within two weeks.

First electric bikes

India’s Ola will get its electric bicycle battery cells from South Korea’s LG Power Solutions.

The company announced that it was working with the government on the issue, as well as appointed an external expert agency, as well as conducting a private internal investigation.

A company spokesperson said in a statement that, according to these experts’ initial assessment, there was no error in the Ola electric bike battery management system at all, and it is likely that the accident was related to thermal insulation.

While the “LG” Energy Solutions company in Seoul, said that the Indian government report has not yet been published or reached the company, and therefore it cannot comment on its content, because the root cause of the burning accident has not yet been determined.

Other investigations

An Indian company's long-distance walking scooter
An electric scooter is preparing for Indian company Simple Energy to launch in August

The government investigation has involved some accidents involving electric bikes, made by Indian start-ups Okinawa and Pure EV.

According to Reuters, in the case of Okinawa there was a problem with the cells and battery modules, and for the electric bike burn accident produced by Pure EV, the problem was in the battery housing.

The initial findings of the investigation prompted the Indian government to consider the need to test electric bike battery cells before companies are allowed to launch them.

India is currently testing battery packs, but not cells mainly imported from South Korea or China.

The two companies had previously announced that they were investigating the fires, and had issued a decision to call some grades to be examined, and to ensure that the matter was not repeated.

Ola also announced, in late April, the recall of 1,441 electric motorcycles (electric scooters), after weeks of burning accidents, which led to the start of government investigations.

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