The CEOs and managing directors of electric scooter companies were issued show-cause notices after their vehicles caught fire, asking them to explain why they should not be charged under the Motor Vehicles Act, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has told Parliament.
Further action would be taken based on their responses, the minister said in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on July 21.
There have been several reports of electric two-wheelers bursting into flames in recent months, raising safety concerns at a time when the government is pushing big for EVs. Manufacturers also had to recall vehicles.
Gadkari was asked about the steps taken to “ensure extensive testing of EVs by manufacturers” and if the government had levied fines for the multiple EV fire accidents.
The ministry notifies safety standards “from time-to-time” and these were “required to be complied with” by vehicle manufacturers, the minister said.
As for testing, the minister said the process was notified under Rule 126 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, which says that approval certificate is only issued to prototypes or components that meet specified standards.
The ministry had constituted a committee of experts to suggest safety standards for batteries, battery components and related systems, Gadkari said.
On July 19, minister of state for heavy industries Krishnan Pal Gurjar talked about the show-cause notices and said there was no downtrend in EV sales and testing of components was done as per relevant standards.
Gurjar's statement mentioned EVs catching fire in March in Tamil Nadu and April in Andhra Pradesh but since early April, there have been multiple instances of EVs catching fire. E-scooters sold by Ola, Okinawa, Pure EV, and Jitendra EV have gone up in flames in several parts of the country.
While the overall sales of EVs in India have gone up 6 percent, according to the VAHAN portal, the registration of electric two-wheelers—both cargo and passenger— declined from 49,084 units in April to 39,492 units in May.
Okinawa Autotech recalled 3,215 vehicles on April 16, Pure EV recalled 2,000 units on April 21 and Ola Electric 1,441 units on April 23.
There are more than 13 lakh EVs registered in the country. This figure excludes the data for Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Lakshadweep, Gadkari told Rajya Sabha on July 20.
In his RS reply, Gadkari said under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) Phase-II scheme, 2,877 public EV charging stations had been sanctioned in 68 cities and 1,576 across nine expressways and 16 highways.
"The number of electric vehicles in the country is 13,34,385 (excluding data of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Lakshadweep, which is not available in VAHAN 4) as on 14-07-2022 and a total of 2,826 public charging stations are operational in the country, as per the Bureau of Energy Efficiency," he said.