The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways recently amended the AIS156 norms, a stringent testing and certification standard, to ensure better safety following a spate of fire-related incidents involving EVs in summer.
“The new standards require a redesign of the battery packs, BMS (battery management systems), as well as the development of new tooling for the aluminium casing and new capital equipment,” said Anand Kabra, managing director of Battrixx, a battery pack supplier for electric two-wheelers.
There are constraints for the number of approvals to come together in such a short time, he said, adding that Original Equipment Manufacturers will have to stop production,
thereby affecting sales.
“You probably see some impact of the first phase of the new battery standard AIS156 in December and January,” a senior EV industry executive said. “In April, the impact would be even more significant. There is just not enough time for the industry and the certification agency ARAI to deliver.”
The Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) is the body that tests and certifies vehicles before they go on sale. In November,
EV makers witnessed record sales on the back of festive season demand.
The government’s recent amendment is being implemented in two phases – from December 1, and the second phase from April 1.
The first phase involves implementing features such as battery traceability and spacing between cells, among other requirements.
In addition to the AIS156, the Ministry of Heavy Industries also introduced a new set of testing guidelines related to safety for
availing of the FAME-II subsidy payout in November.
The ARAI is also in charge of auditing companies and their suppliers to comply with the domestic value addition norms to avail of the FAME-II subsidy.
There are overlaps and duplications in testing under different policies and departments, and it will have to be streamlined.
“It takes a month to certify the battery, a month to certify the vehicle and three months to get the supply chain up and running. That is fine for one vehicle, but when there are dozens of vehicles then everything cannot be done in such a short period,” said the executive quoted above.
A senior government official told ET on condition of anonymity that 80% of the EV makers have been certified under phase-1 of AIS156 amendments, indicating that though the testing and certifications have been happening, it is not yet complete.
ARAI did not respond to ET’s queries seeking comment.
While some companies have requested the government to extend the deadline for the first phase, certain battery makers and manufacturers of EVs are understood to be
lobbying with the government to provide them more time to comply with the second phase of AIS156, which involves fixing additional sensors, and sending out warnings in case of thermal heating. They have said they would not be able to implement the changes.
The industry has been seeking time till March 31, 2023, to incorporate the changes as per the AIS156 phase-2 requirement and till August 31, 2023, to complete the re-homologation of the battery packs.
Also read | Electric vehicle battery makers likely to get more time to meet safety norms
But their demands may not be met this time, as the authorities want them to adopt the changes much before summer.
High atmospheric temperature is seen as one of the reasons for batteries in electric vehicles getting overheated and catching fire, said a senior government official.
Sources in the ministry said that the transition from BS4 to BS6 in automobiles took place smoothly, even though the majority of manufacturers were not ready.
EV manufacturers and several battery companies said they needed adequate time to implement the changes.
“Given the scope of amendments proposed, battery packs would be required to undergo significant re-design, re-engineering, validation and testing,” said Sohinder Gill, chief executive of Hero Electric and director-general of the Society of Electric Vehicle Manufacturers (SMEV).
Hero Electric, he said, was able to comply with the revised changes as its battery maker managed changes much before the December deadline.
The new battery packs are required to be submitted for re-certification to agencies such as the ARAI. These processes take time and ARAI is understood to be stuck with a backlog.
Old inventory may not be allowed in vehicles now, said battery manufacturers.
“This is the right direction for the industry,” said Arun Vinayak, CEO and cofounder of Exponent Energy. “But in the short term, it does create a lot of operational stress. While we’ve got our phase 1 certification, we need to carefully plan our next 4 months. From ordering cells to pushing out a pack – it’s a four-month lead time by itself. So, managing inventory to ensure we don’t have excess packs, while also managing design activities in parallel to meet phase 2 of AIS regulations from April is our focus now.”
In September, battery manufacturers got an extension to December 1 to meet the additional safety requirements that the government brought in after several incidents of electric vehicles catching fire. The deadline for adopting phase 1 of the more stringent safety standards was October 1.