Why Do E-bikes Catch Fire?

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 22/08/2022

In recent years, there have been various reports of electric bikes catching fire and resulting in injuries and vehicle damage. The government has also taken steps to look into the matter and ensure safety for all involved. In this article, we will look at how electric bikes work and the possible reasons behind these fires. We will also share some tips to help you prevent them.

How do Electric Bikes Work?

Electric vehicles or EVs run on electricity that is generated by Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries. While some electric vehicles use the traditional Lead-Acid batteries, the Li-Ion batteries are preferred due to being lighter in weight and more efficient. They also tend to last longer than Lead-Acid batteries.

A Li-ion e-bike battery has the following parts:

  • Cathode
  • Anode
  • Electrolyte
  • Separator
  • Two current collectors

The lithium is stored in the anode and cathode. The electrolyte carries lithium ions from the anode to the cathode, and vice versa. This allows the Li-ion e-bike battery to store enough energy to offer an optimum driving range.

However, in recent times, there have been numerous incidents of these batteries catching fire, putting a question mark on e-bike fire safety. One of the primary reasons behind these fires can be the high energy density of these batteries.

The Battery Management System

When a battery has a high energy density, its cells are prone to becoming unstable and hinder its functionality. To ensure safety, Li-ion batteries have a Battery Management System (BMS).

This is an electronic device that constantly measures the current flow and voltage in a Li-ion battery. It also measures the temperature at different parts and ensures optimum battery performance.

EV Fire Risk – Why Do Electric Vehicles Catch Fire?

There are two possible reasons behind an electric bike fire accident:

1.The electrolyte in a Li-ion battery is highly flammable. It can catch fire if the battery is overheated or damaged. Overheating can increase the pressure and cause the electrodes to explode. 2. Many Li-ion battery makers use low-quality components to provide batteries at cheaper rates. This can lead to potential fires.

You Can Prevent an e-bike Fire Accident – Here Are Some Tips

There has been a surge in the launch of new electric bikes. However, with multiple reports of electric bike fire in India, bike owners need to understand some safety measures to avoid such accidents with Lithium-Ion batteries. Here are some important tips:

  • Make sure that you purchase the electric bike from a reputed manufacturer with a guarantee of using high-quality components. Also, make sure that the manufacturer offers a warranty for the bike and the batteries.
  • The user manual will offer a list of precautions that you can take to avoid the EV fire risk. Make sure that you go through the manual and follow the instructions carefully.
  • When you are charging your e-bike, only use the cord and adapter provided by the manufacturer
  • Electrical extensions should be avoided while charging the EV. Try to plug it into the mains directly
  • Install a smoke detector where you charge the electric vehicle. This will help you detect a fire quickly
  • If the electric bike or its battery gets wet in the rain, then do not try to charge it. Make sure that you get it tested by the manufacturer.
  • Do not keep old Lithium-Ion batteries at home. Discharge them responsibly
  • Do not overcharge the battery. Many electric bike owners keep their EVs charging overnight. This can increase the EV fire risk
  • If you are charging your vehicle in a public place, then use a charging station that is government-authorized only.
  • Do not park your electric vehicle in direct sunlight
  • Avoid charging the EV in an area that has flammable or combustible materials
  • Do not cover the battery packs or charging while charging. This can increase the EV fire risk

Do Not Forget Insurance for Two-Wheelers

Most importantly, buy a comprehensive two-wheeler insurance policy that offers coverage for fire damage to your electric vehicle. Many insurance companies offer Insurance for Two Wheelers specially designed for electric bikes. Make sure that you go through the policy wording and understand the inclusions and exclusions carefully before buying.

You can also look at electric bike insurance plans offered by Tata AIG, and use our online bike insurance calculator to find the most cost-efficient and comprehensive policy for your needs.

Tips for Managing an Electric Bike Fire Accident

Make sure that you check your EV’s battery regularly and look for signs like:

  • A strange burning smell
  • Sound of leakage
  • Weird noise
  • A change in the shape of the battery, etc.

These can be early signs of danger and can help you prevent an e-bike fire accident.

However, if your electric bike catches fire, then here are some tips:

  • Do not panic
  • Evacuate the charging area
  • Call the fire brigade
  • Report the incident to the nearest police station
  • Call your insurance provider and report the incident

Conclusion

The recent spate of incidents involving electric bike fire in India has made people unsure of the safety of these vehicles. However, electric bikes are designed to be safe. Make sure that you purchase the vehicle from a reputed manufacturer and follow all safety instructions carefully. Also, make sure that you purchase a comprehensive two wheeler insurance policy to get the best protection for your e-bike.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do e-bikes catch fire easily?

There are two identified reasons behind electric bike fire accidents:

  • Overcharging or overheating of the battery, resulting in an increase in pressure and explosion of the electrodes

  • The use of low-quality components in the manufacture of Lithium-Ion batteries

Hence, when you are purchasing an electric bike, make sure that you buy from a reputed and reliable manufacturer and avoid overcharging.

Is it mandatory to buy two wheeler insurance for electric bikes in India?

If your electric bike has a speed of less than 25 kmph or power of less than 250 W, then it is not mandatory to buy two wheeler insurance in India. However, electric bikes are expensive and are exposed to similar risks on roads. Hence, it is prudent to purchase a comprehensive bike insurance policy for your electric bike.

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