A fire broke out at electric scooter start-up Ather Energy’s dealership in Chennai. Videos of the incident have surfaced on the internet and show smoke coming out of Ather’s outlet. The fire occurred on Friday afternoon and the company was quick to make an official statement on Twitter.
Ather first acknowledged the fire soon after it happened, and has now put out a statement with the findings of its investigation. As per the statement, the scooter that caught fire was an accident-affected scooter that came to the service centre with a cracked battery pack. Dirt on the scooter prompted the service centre to pressure wash the scooter, which led to water entering the battery pack through the crack, and causing internal short circuiting of the cells within the pack, which led to a thermal runaway situation.
The company says the scooter was then isolated from all other vehicles and persons at the dealership (though some reports say a number of other scooters were also damanged in the incident), and while there was some damage caused to the property, no employees were injured in the mishap. Ather's statement also mentions that the affected scooter featured third-party fasteners of varying lengths installed around the battery pack, which it believes could have worsened the stresses on the battery pack's top panel where the crack formed.
Whether the cause of the fire is related to the operation of the vehicle or not, there is no denying that it's an unfortunate time for an Ather scooter to face this issue. This is one of many electric scooter-related fire incidents that have occurred in the past two months or so in our country. Companies such as Ola Electric, Pure EV, Jitendra EV Tech and Okinawa have all been involved in EV fire incidents. However, this marks the first time that Ather has been involved in such an event. Most recently, a Hero Electric Photon scooter caught fire due to a faulty power socket.
As far as rectification measures are concerned, Ather says it will be introducing new pre-checks for inspection of vehicles that come to the service centre after an accident. The company has also urged its customers to stick with the correct specification of fasteners on its scooters, especially for areas surrounding the battery and wiring, irrespective of whether the vehicle is being worked on at Ather's service centres or outside.