What is Uniform Battery Standards or UBS?
Uniform Battery Standards or UBS is a set up by the government to inquire into the matter to ensure that the manufacturers adhere to stipulated standards with regard to batteries used in the vehicles.
Road Transport and Highway secretary Giridhar Aramane said that the government will look at and inspect each and every incident of electric scooters catching fire. He also called upon the e-scooter or e-bike manufacturers must quickly establish necessary functional safety protocols, quality control, and quality assurance systems.
The samples of batteries that manufacturers get tested at the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) or the International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) are used in all the electric vehicles they produce has no conformity of production to ensure. There’s no system present where these 2 agencies inspect the production units of EV manufacturers to ensure that uniform battery standards are maintained. Also, there’s no system of random checks on the production units.
So, simply the system works like this: the manufacturers get 4-6 samples of lithium-ion batteries tested by ARAI and ICAT, but whether they use the same battery across vehicles is not confirmed by any regulatory agency. This may be one major reason for some EVs catching fire recently.
The batteries used in electric two-wheelers in India comply either with the older AIS-048 standards or the newer AIS-156 standards, which were introduced in 2020. AIS-048 tests include short-circuit, overcharge, vibration, shock, and nail penetration. On the other hand, AIS-156 claimed to be one of the most precise in the world for testing batteries, stipulates tests like vibration, overcharge protection, external short circuit protection, fire resistance, mechanical drop, over-temperature protection, thermal shock, etc.
Everyone panicked due to the accident that happened recently in some places. At least 8 fire incidents involving two-wheeler EVs of companies like Jitendra New EV Tech, Pure EV, Okinawa Autotech, Ola Electric, etc.
After Okinawa and Pure EV announced a voluntary recall of certain batches of their electric scooters following a spate of battery explosions in the recent past, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari urged other companies involved in such incidents to follow suit, failing which there could be heavy penalties. He also warned of a government order on recalls if companies did not adequately address the safety issue.
The government may issue Uniform Battery Standards or UBS for EVs
The Indian government has constituted an expert committee to enquire into these incidents. The expert panel includes four experts from the Defence Fire and Explosive Laboratory, the Naval System Development Laboratory, and the Indian Institute of Science.
Once the government-appointed panel concludes its investigation, the ministry will also issue guidelines on the safety of electric vehicles. These could include the different tests to ascertain safety standards as well as the number of samples to be tested.