Press "Enter" to skip to content

Okinawa to recall Over 3,000 Praise Pro E-Scooters after fire cases – Economic Times

Okinawa Autotech will recall 3,215 Praise Pro electric scooters in the first instance of an Indian manufacturer doing so after a spate of recent fires, said to be related to batteries.

“This is part of its comprehensive powerpack health checkup camps. The batteries will be checked for loose connectors or any damage and be repaired free of charge at any of the Okinawa authorised dealerships pan India,” the company said in a release on Saturday.

Three of Okinawa’s scooters have caught fire since October, resulting in two being injured. Ola Electric, Pure EV and Jitendra EV are other companies that have seen their electric scooters catch fire in the last three weeks. Ola Electric is still yet to publicly comment on its investigation into the incidents.

Ola Electric, Pure EV and Jitendra EV did not respond to queries sent by ET on whether they are also considering recalls. Okinawa Autotech was the third bestselling electric two-wheeler maker in March with sales of 8,284 units, after Hero Electric (13,023) and Ola (9,127). The move comes as the government considers a recall policy for electric vehicles in line with that for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT), Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Niti Aayog and companies have agreed on the need for such a policy, said people aware of the matter.

Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) typically recall vehicles in an affected batch to address issues quickly. This also helps build trust, he said.

‘Recall Policy may Take 6-8 Mths’

Globally, auto manufacturers have been recalling electric vehicles (EVs) due to issues with battery systems and improper electrical connections, Kant said.

“There is a need for a voluntary recall policy as it builds confidence in the customer,” said Kaushik Madhavan, vice president – mobility practice, Frost & Sullivan. “This way the company also takes responsibility of faulty designs and ensures products are well tested and of good quality.”

Dealers have been terminating contracts, and customers cancelling bookings and seeking refunds, shortening waiting periods, said people with knowledge of the matter. Company executives told ET they are seeking to manage the situation by engaging with government testing agencies ARAI and ICAT, dealers and customers and being vigilant on the manufacturing processes.

“There is a need for policy intervention (recall) but it will take about 6-8 months,” said Sohinder Gill, CEO, Hero Electric, and president of the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV). “This is safety month at Hero Electric, which had a town hall for 500 of its dealers. Many customers are making use of the free service available and getting batteries checked. We are fixing sensors in the bikes too as a precautionary measure.”

Ola Electric is among those that have seen booking cancellations although the company didn’t confirm this. Pure EV, Okinawa and Okaya have also been hit with cancellations.

“There is a strong need to focus on new product development to prevent such fires in the future,” said Ola founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal, who recently announced that he will begin to focus more on R&D, engineering functions and products. “We are investing deeply behind core R&D to create indigenous advanced cell technologies as well as investing in large-scale manufacturing of batteries.”

Focus on R&D Efforts

Experts say companies are stepping up R&D efforts in battery management systems and seeking superior technology. EV manufacturers say more companies have begun using lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) technology, which is better at thermal management compared to the more commonly used lithium-ion chemistries like NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt).

“Batteries need to be LFP based, considering our extreme heat conditions,” said Anshul Gupta, MD, Okaya Electric, a leading manufacturer of EV charging stations, electric vehicles, lead and lithium batteries, and motors. “Post these fire incidents we have stepped up internal discipline and do aggressive testing at the testing agencies.” Okaya, which is launching an electric scooter this month, supplies battery packs to several OEMs.