Edited by LectrixEv | Updated at:28 Jul 2023 3:17pm

To What Extent Are Electric Scooter Batteries a Fire Risk?

In September 2022, the Hindustan Times covered the case of an e-scooter fire caught in one of Secunderabad's showrooms. CCTV footage later revealed that the fire started due to a battery explosion, thereby charring a series of EV scooters parked next to each other in the basement. Eight people succumbed to their injuries sustained in this tragic incident.
Another EV scooter fire case was reported in the South West region of Delhi's Samalkha in December 2022. Twitter footage showed how a fire was just about to start when the owner successfully managed to put it out. One incident had fatalities; the other did not, but each confirmed that an electric vehicle is just like any other electrical appliance out there.
It comes with certain inherent risks for a fire hazard, not necessarily associated with the surrounding climate of the place. Does this mean you should be wary of certain things if you plan to buy an electric scooter? No; with a few simple safety measures, there should be no danger of such an accident. This blog discusses the risks and causes of EV fires and essential tips to ward them off.

EV Fires and Thermal Runaway

Even the top electric scooter today uses lithium-ion batteries to function. A two-way movement is created to generate an electric charge - through lithium ions and electrons. The electrolyte stored within a lithium-ion battery's cell is highly energy-dense and, thus, flammable.
This danger only increases if some sort of external pressure on the battery or electrolyte leakage goes unnoticed. Any of the two scenarios can lead to what is known as a thermal runaway. This condition occurs when the liquid electrolyte within the battery's cell begins decomposing. As a result, massive heat is generated and dissipated to the surroundings.
As time passes, internal temperatures of the EV rise above normal levels, and a self-heating chemical reaction occurs. If action is taken at this stage (as in the case of the Samalkha incident), a fire can be mitigated, and the electric vehicle will only produce smoke.
However, if nothing is done and the vehicle continues overheating, it will propagate a thermal runaway. At this stage, the battery in which a self-heating reaction occurred, will affect other EV batteries nearby (as in the case of the Secunderabad showroom).
If the situation has reached this stage, it is only a disaster waiting to happen because the fire is self-sustaining and has all three components required for combustion - heat, oxygen, and fuel. Though an EV scooter fire is uncommon, it can be deadly if it gains momentum.

What Causes an Electric Scooter Battery to Explode?

Now the question arises: What factors are generally responsible for an EV vehicle fire? These include -
Manufacturing Defects
The most sensitive component of an EV scooter is its battery owing to a fire hazard. But, lithium-ion batteries are expensive, and some manufacturers may be tempted to install defective materials for profits. In other cases, the victim may be among the few unfortunate ones to receive a scooter with inadequate quality checks.
Poor manufacturing techniques can lead to battery malfunction and explosion.
Battery Abuse
Just like any other electrical appliance, electric scooters also have their limitations. Some people abuse battery power by exposing it to harsh and extreme weather conditions. In other instances, the EV's battery may suffer disfiguration due to the dropping of the vehicle or a previous collision.
These hamper the battery's integrity and may lead to dangerous incidents in the future.
When an electric vehicle's battery is subjected to frequent overcharging and discharging cycles, electrolyte decomposition starts taking place. Dendrites and metal dissolutions are formed, which could lead to a short circuit in the battery's cell.
Natural Ageing
On average, an EV scooter's lithium-ion battery should run well for 300 to 500 cycles of charge and discharge which roughly accounts for 3,000 to 10,000 miles of usage, depending upon the frequency, road conditions, weather conditions, etc.
It is essential to replace the battery after its productive life ends. Otherwise, it may malfunction.

Essential Safety Measures to Keep EV Fires at Bay

Safety should be your top priority when handling highly flammable lithium-ion batteries for EV scooters. Thankfully, there are ways to ensure you prevent a fire hazard throughout the life of your vehicle.
General Safety Measures
In general, every owner of an electric vehicle should follow these safety practices -
Do not keep the electric scooter price factor over quality. It can be tempting to purchase the cheapest EV scooter in the market, but doing so comes with risks. Affordable models often use counterfeit lithium-ion batteries that may not meet manufacturing safety standards. Without proper temperature control circuits, your battery is vulnerable to unsafe levels of charge/discharge cycles.
Keep your machine clean, and dust it using a clean cloth daily (regardless of whether you use it). Dirt and grime settled on the body of the EV can lead to overheating of the battery over time.
While physically handling the battery, be extra careful not to puncture or drop it. This can lead to an electrolyte imbalance within the cell.
Keep the battery safe from extreme temperatures because most lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to extreme temperatures. They may malfunction, affecting road performance but sometimes catching fire.
If you're transporting battery packs, use a fireproof bag or battery case for safety.
Run frequent battery checks for leaks, dents, or cracks on the surface. If the battery is in-built, look for other signs like loose wiring and odd sounds during acceleration. Visit a technician immediately for a repair or replacement.
Important Charging Practices
There are some essential safety measures to exercise while charging your electric vehicle, including -
Do not use generic or third-party chargers to charge your EV scooter. Always use the one that comes with your vehicle and is authorized by its manufacturer.
Never overcharge your device. Many EV fire cases occur during the charging process because electricity is still being generated within the battery's cell. Unplug when the maximum charge time is over (or the required time). For instance - Lectrix EV's LXS scooter needs only three hours to charge from 0 to 100%. The vehicle's in-built Battery Management System will help you optimize the charge duration.
Important Storage Practices
There are specific safety measures to follow even while EV battery storage, including -

  • Every time the battery is not in use, it is best to disconnect it from the electric vehicle.
  • Always store EV batteries in a cool and dry place.
  • 15 to 20 degrees Celsius is the ideal temperature range for battery storage. You can check the manufacturer's manual for the correct numbers for your EV scooter. Temperatures higher/lower than the recommended increase the risk of an explosion.
  • Never store the battery near metal items, such as coins, jewelry, or coins. This is because metals are good conductors of electricity and can easily lead to a short circuit in the battery's cell.
  • Finally, monitor battery recalls (which may happen due to safety concerns). If the memory is made on the kind of battery your EV uses, opt for a refund or replacement of the battery.

Don't Have an EV Yet? Invest in One!

There is a reason why electric vehicles are all the rage today. They help reduce your carbon footprint, offer the benefit of low running costs, and are low maintenance. Don't let electric vehicle fire risks keep you from investing in one because accidents do not happen in isolation.
Most EV fires can be prevented if proper safety measures are taken beforehand. Lectrix EV's LXS comes with 15 smart IoT-enabled features that offer a stress-free, in-city ride in all weather conditions. The advanced Battery Management System (BMS) optimizes the charging duration, and the vehicle provides a solid range of 89 km in a single charging cycle.
The mobile app connectivity feature lets you access your EV from your smartphone screen! So, what are you waiting for? Invest in your joyride today.

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