Govt threatens action against EVs cos not recalling vehicles

NEW DELHI: Days after transport minister Nitin Gadkari put electric vehicle players on notice, the Centre on Monday read out the riot act amid recurrence of fatal two-wheeler fires. During a meeting with industry players, union road transport secretary Giridhar Aramane asked manufacturers to quickly recall the faulty batches of vehicles on their own or be ready to face serious consequences for hiding any incident of fire or delay in recall.

Sources present in the meeting told TOI that Aramane quoted provision of the Motor Vehicle Act, which empowers the government to take strict action against manufacturers for causing harm to people and public property. He said “none will be spared” for compromising on passenger safety.

All the EV manufacturers have been ordered to send the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and testing norms for quality check on batteries and other equipment in the next couple of weeks, in addition to stepping up focus on research and development.

At the meeting, the transport secretary pointed out how some companies have 12-15 employees and raised questions over the quality control mechanism in place at these entities. The issue of quality control of batteries provided by manufacturers has come under scanner considering that the manufacturers sell the batteries as a package with EVs. The issue of how the companies have a handful of technical staff for quality checks and research has also been flagged by the government.

Aramane is learnt to have told industry players that only three manufacturers have recalled their vehicles while fire cases were reported in case of vehicles rolled out by six players. Even in the three cases the ministry had to intervene to get the manufacturers moving on recalling faulty batches.

“The government is fully behind the industry for healthy growth, but not at the cost of consumers’ safety. The companies will have to put their house in order and seriously invest in laboratories and quality control,” a source quoting Aramane said.

Meanwhile, the ministry has instructed Coimbatore-based Boom Motors to stop the production of its Corbett 14 model and has directed it to carry out safety checks, root cause analysis and testing before resuming production. The company has ordered a recall of the vehicles. One person was killed and three others were left injured on Saturday in an EV fire involving Corbett 14 in Vijayawada.

It had sold a few vehicles, officials said. Sources also said that investigations are underway in the case of Jitendra EV and the company was carrying out necessary modifications. A truck full of its EV scooters had caught fire. “Since none of the vehicles were sold, there has been no recall,” said a source. The company has also put the launch on hold until it fixes the problem.