In yet another incident of an electric car catching fire, Hyundai Motor’s four-month old electric sports utility vehicle Kona reportedly exploded on Friday in Montreal, raising passenger safety concerns.
The electric car, bought in March earlier this year, was, as reported, unplugged from the charging socket when the explosion took place. While the incident is still being investigated to figure potential reasons behind the explosion, there are several instances wherein Tesla cars have reportedly caught fire on their own in the past.
According to experts on electric vehicles (EV), the lithium ion battery packs are the central point of these accidents as the technology is still nascent and evolving rapidly, with global carmakers aiming to capitalise on the EV wave.
Back home, Hyundai Motor India Ltd has launched the electric Kona earlier this month at a hefty price tag of ₹25 lakh. The carmaker, which currently imports and assembles the electric Kona at its Chennai facility, became the first company to roll out a long range pure electric car in India. Kona is powered by a 39.2kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, which the company claims offers an ARAI certified running range of 452 kms in one full charge. The Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) is a prime testing and certification agency notified by the central government.
Few days back, Hyundai announced that it has received 120 confirmed bookings for its electric Kona, which will be sold by 14 dealerships in 11 cities. Hyundai said it was offering a warranty of three years with unlimited kilometers on the Kona and a warranty of eight years up to 160,000 km on the lithium-ion battery.
Notably, several EV experts have already warned that fast charging mechanism for the lithium ion battery pack(s) may not be a suitable solution for EV charging in typical Indian hot and humid weather conditions.
“The lithium cells generate heat while charging and even more rapidly when they are fast charged. While the battery management system (BMS) is generally designed to disseminate this heat adequately and monitor the cells continuously, this is an even bigger challenge for the engineers while designing the BMS tailor-made for already hot Indian weather conditions. An EV that might work well in a country with low temperatures may not necessarily deliver the same performance in a hot environment," explained a senior R&D professional currently engaged with a large homegrown carmaker, on the condition of anonymity.
Mint did not receive any response from Hyundai to an e-mailed query on passenger safety of its recently launched electric Kona in India.