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Electric vehicle battery makers likely to get more time to meet safety norms

Battery manufacturers may get an extension of 4 to 8 months to meet the additional safety requirements that the government has brought in after several incidents of electric vehicles catching Fire, 2 people in the know said. 

The deadline for adopting the new and more stringent safety standards currently is October 1. Battery makers and manufacturers of electric vehicles have been lobbying with the government to provide them more time to comply with the new regulations, saying that they got only four weeks to implement those since the notification came only this month. After several rounds of deliberations among the government, automakers and battery manufacturers, “it is decided in principle to extend the deadline”, said a person close to the development. 

The industry has been seeking time till March 31, 2023 to incorporate the changes as per the AIS-156 Rev-2 requirement and till August 31, 2023 to complete the re-homologation of the battery packs. 

But their demand for phase-wise implementation may not be met, the people said, as the authorities want them to adopt the changes much ahead of the summer months. High atmospheric temperature is seen as one of the reasons for batteries in electric vehicles getting overheated and catching 8re.  Electric vehicle manufacturers such as Hero Electric, Tata Motors, Kinetic Green Energy & Power Solutions and several battery companies said they needed adequate time to implement the changes. Given the scope of amendments proposed, battery packs would be required to undergo significant re-design, re-engineering, validation and testing, according to them. 

“The new standards will require redesign of the battery packs, BMS (battery management systems), as wells as development of new tooling for the aluminium casing and new capital equipment,” said Anand Kabra, managing director of Battrixx, a battery pack supplier for electric two-wheelers. 

Given that the battery pack size may change to meet the new guidelines of, vehicle makers would also be required to change the design and tooling for their vehicles, said Kinetic Green Chief Executive Sulajja Firodia Motwani. 

The new battery packs would also be required to be submitted for re certification to agencies such as the Automotive Research Association of India and International Centre for Automotive Technology. These processes will take time and hasty implementation of the standards may destabilise the nascent electric vehicle industry, said Sohinder Gill, chief executive of Hero Electric and director-general of the Society of Electric Vehicle Manufacturers. 

The notification on the new standards, with the effective date of October 1, came on September 3. That left the manufacturers with four weeks to implement all of the changes, including conducting thermal propagation tests on the battery packs and providing 5 cycles of data to the testing agencies, according to industry insiders.  Further, most of the equipment is imported, which would also mean that they would take about six to eight weeks to be procured and then have them commissioned, they said. 

It is preferred that this is done on a sampling basis as otherwise the infrastructure required would be bigger than the battery assembly line itself, according to the manufacturers.