- OLA Electric S1 Pro
- PURE EV ePluto 7G
- Okinawa. Media article here
OLA Electric, PURE EV and Okinawa need to do the following ASAP
- They need to release reports after detailed investigation from their respective RnD teams. What caused the fire? What do your vehicle logs say? Did you identify the root cause? What are the triggers for your battery pack to get into thermal runaway conditions? What would your recommendations be to your customers? These and other relevant questions need to be answered.
- Communicate on how did they take care of the unfortunate customers, who were involved in these incidents.
- Ultimately you need to reassure your customers. I speak to many EV owners and enthusiasts, they are really worried. The main reason of their worry os due to the absolute lack of public communication and education.
- All these 3 OEM's are notorious for their lack of communication to the greater EV community. OLA Electric focusses on PR and not on educating their customers, PURE EV focusses on communication to their customers (which is good) but ignores public communication and education. Okinawa never responds to our mails. This wont help, they need to do more when it comes to education.
Ola Electric S1 Pro fire
We know multiple people at OLA electric working at engineering, marketing and management. They told me that the company is taking this incident seriously. Apparently they have been testing the S1 Pro for more than a year in hot weather conditions in Krishnagiri, TN and other places. There is also a technology built into the scooter called the 'OlaSense' that monitors the battery system and checks if any cell is misbehaving or is under stress. In such situations the technology alerts the BMS, which communicates to the system and automatically switches to eco mode to avoid further stress to the cells in the battery. We have seen OlaSense in action, when many owners have reported their scooter switching to eco mode all of a sudden with no explanation. That is a good thing. It is a protection mechanism in action. In this case, the team is baffled why OlaSense did not work. I also learnt that the OLA S1 pro collects and uploads logs to the server regularly. They said that engineers and management have visited the Pune location. The scooter is totally damaged, I'm not sure what they can get from it. What i believe is that, the engineers can examine the logs leading to the fire and try to understand from the code and understand which parameters went haywire in the events leading to the fire.
The community is waiting for OLA electric's report. We also advised the management of OLA electric to also get a third party agency to release a report too. Let's hope for the best.
I spoke to a learned professor at IIT-H who is working on battery cells. He did not want his name to be published for privacy reasons. I showed him the video of the OLA scooter fire and he said -
"From observing the fire, i can say that the lithium NMC cells used by OLA seems to be of good quality. In my research, i have tested multiple lithium cells - A grade, A+, B grade and more. I have seen how they burn or explode. In this case, there was decent amount of time available before you can see explosions. Also i see that the explosions that typically happen with NMC cells were happening in a controlled manner. That is a sign of good cell quality. No one has seen a 4 kWh battery fire so far. I have seen cells that explodes immediately. I have also seen cells shooting out from the battery pack like a tracer bullet. In this case there was lot of time and nothing of that sort happened. If the cells were a poor quality one, u can see cells exploding at a rapid pace and it can even reach the other side of the road. Thermal runaway could have happened maybe because of a short circuit but it needs more investigation. I'm not sure if the OLA's battery pack has phase change material. That too helps in delaying explosions."
The above comment from the learned professor was revealing. The cell quality does not seem to be the issue here. How did the BMS allow such thermal runaway to happen is the big question. The BMS team at Ola electric have some explaining to do. We do know, OLA electric use cells from Korea. Are these LG or Samsung cells? If anyone can shed a light, do write in comments below.
Bhavish Aggarwal, the founder of OLA electric did release a statement.
We do know the management at PURE EV and they do speak to us. The above incident is the third PURE EV scooter catching fire in the past 8 months. That does not bode well for the company. However they did tell me that they are investigating this incident with all seriousness and also released a press statement.
"We have taken cognizance of the incident reported with one of our customer vehicle in Tamil Nadu and preliminary information has been obtained from the concerned client and our dealer. The accident vehicle has been brought to our concerned dealer service station for further analysis. We are investigating the incident and will do a thorough assessment. We adhere to the highest safety standards through rigorous internal testing as well as special phase change materials being implemented in our battery packs to avoid rapid fire/blast kind of scenarios.
PURE batteries come with the state-of-the art thermal management system, which is a combination of the electronics coupled with multiple active/passive materials, to avoid the thermal-runaway events. We also have a special vent mechanism so that the smokes get released immediately whenever there is any kind of event inside the battery, otherwise, a pressure cooker kind of scenario can take place, leading to sudden blast/explosion. Although we are yet to receive the full information in the enclosed thermal run away investigation form, however the preliminary information revealed that the white smoke has come out for long time (which is due to the melting of the organic based phase change materials) for many minutes, followed by the controlled thermal run away event and finally leading to the uncontrolled fire.
The objective of providing the thermal management materials was not only to improve the efficiency and life cycle/safety of our batteries, but also to suppress the immediate explosion kind of incident for a long time such that the user/people can suppress the fire with fire retardant materials or even with the simple sand or the users can take decision to remove the battery from the vehicle before the event of fire. We will conduct thorough root cause analysis as soon as we receive the accident vehicle."
We did not receive any public report from PURE EV on their earlier fires. Will they continue to just let this also disappear from public memory? That is a strategy many corporations do. Sweep things under the carpet and let time do its work. I did speak to Dr Nishanth from PURE EV and he did say the team is working on an investigative report. Let's wait and watch.
The mainstream media and the traditional pollution vehicle media are all over these incidents. Front page headlines with large fonts. Verbal shots are fired by the pollution vehicle media and petrol head sheeps can't seem to hide their glee whenever EV's catch fire. These people conveniently ignore hundreds of ICE vehicles catching fire each month. Where are the sensational headlines then?
Look at these irresponsible tweets from the pollution vehicle media. Our friends at Tesla Club of India asks a pertinent question to these ICE vehicle OEM shills.
ICE vehicles are catching fire every month. Where are the questions on these?
All fires are bad. EV or ICE. The buck falls with with OLA and PURE EV, Maruti and other OEM's as we have pointed.
But here is the difference. The EV community is reaching out to companies, trying to get data from EV owner and the company. We are also trying to get some battery care guidelines from companies. We will publish them for the benefit of the EV owner community.
On the other hand u see the entire petrol head auto 'journalists' and and mainstream media not bothered about education but are more interested in causing hysteria with EV fires while conveniently ignoring the 100's of ICE fires happening each month, we cant stand back. We need to remind them to do their jobs.
What can you do as an EV owner?
Do everything you can to avoid stress. Your EV will be fine.
I have extended tips in my ownership blog.
Do watch our video, where we chat with a battery designer. He offers his tips on how to take care of your battery.
There are calls already for the government to step in and put in place additional regulations for batteries in EV's. The Indian central government has formed a team of experts to investigate these incidents.
Will EV OEM's need to add complex battery cooling tech in their battery packs? Modern Electric cars like the Nexon EV have liquid cooling to maintain the temperature of the battery pack. Adding such complex systems will increase the cost of electric scooters. There are calls for banning the NMC chemistry cells for India and focus on LFP cells which have a higher temperature tolerance and don't catch fire easily. What do you think?
And it’s really important to emphasize the fact that we can think or assume anything in our own minds, but until we know the details, it’s not right to make assumptions. The goal is to remain truthful while reporting accurately. People will go to the extremes to prove that EV's are bad. These are the kind of people that take conspiracies and run with them. If the batteries are proven to be the cause of these fires, OLA, PURE EV and others will find a way to not only solve this issue and prevent future fires from happening. Samsung had an issue with exploding Galaxy Note 7 batteries. They were able to solve this and improve their products. So, let us remain level-headed and fair in our coverage and be grateful that no one was harmed from these incidents.
I'm an owner of the OLA S1 Pro. Do read by ownership blog too!