BEV Fires Encourage China to Get Serious About Battery Safety, Vehicle Monitoring

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
bev fires encourage china to get serious about battery safety vehicle monitoring

China is currently the largest proponent of electric vehicles on the entire planet. The nation has even incorporated BEVs as a significant part of its complex strategy to overtake the United States the dominant global superpower. However a sudden influx of battery related fires has caused it some trepidation, even though there hasn’t been much evidence to suggest they are actually more prone to catching fire than gas-powered vehicles.

Regardless, the People’s Republic is now demanding that manufacturers conduct routine inspections on electric cars. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says all companies must conduct checks on BEVs, focusing on battery waterproofing, battery boxes, charging points, high-voltage wiring harnesses, and even the wear of mechanical components. They will also be required to report on repairs and any incidents that might indicate a problem. According to the ministry’s press release, they have until October to submit their findings.

Those inspections will not be limited to factory vehicles. China said EVs already been sold to the public should also be checked, with extra attention being given to high-milage vehicles like busses and cabs. For personal transport, the ministry said manufacturers needed to “clearly inform the user when the vehicle triggers the conditions” so they can return the cars for inspection. Triggers include routine maintenance schedules, any accidents, the car being exposed to standing water, and all noteworthy system malfunctions (heat management, overcharge, etc).

However, this should be relatively easy to do since China has put in place an impressive system that effectively spies on all drivers with connected EVs. Automakers are required by the state to share the data collected from these vehicles with local government centers and a national lab that tracks the cars in real time.

China claims this is being done to promote safety, improve city planning, and reduce harmful emissions. But it’s also the only country in the whole world that does it. While other nations do collect driving data from automakers that monitor the status of connected vehicles, it’s not mandated by the government or sent to government-backed monitoring centers.

In its release, the Chinese ministry said manufacturers should likewise monitor for safety issues “24-7” by implementing an all-day-every-day program to ensure the drivers of at-risk vehicles be notified immediately. This information is then supposed to be delivered to “local and national regulatory platforms within one day.”

Bloomberg, which glossed over much of the data sharing, said that China is upset over the highly publicized battery fires from Tesla and NIO. The country recorded at least 40 fire-related incidents stemming from new-energy vehicles in 2018. The State Administration for Market Regulation also recalled 130,000 new-energy vehicles last year, which it claimed was unacceptable.

[Image: Wideweb/Shutterstock]

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jun 19, 2019

    When an EV does catch fire, there is some level of stored energy in its battery pack, just as when a petromobile combusts, the fuel tank will have some dinojuice in it representing stored energy. If you douse a flaming petromobile with water or foam by excluding oxygen, you essentially stop the further release of energy from whatever fuel remains. Dousing a burning EV with whatever does nothing useful with respect to the remaining stored energy in the battery. You could pour 20 tons of sand over it from a dump truck and not change the outcome. It doesn't matter about on-board diagnostics keeping the driver informed on battery health - that unfortunate got the hell out of the burning EV and ran to a safe distance. Smart. So firefighters haven't any idea what the hell they're facing with an EV fire. Is it a major short or a minor one, how much energy is left in the battery, if they kill the outward signs of combustion, will a short reignite a fire later as seems to sometime happen? It's all a big unknown, likely very dangerous because of the unknowns and for that reason an EV fire is MUCH MORE of an event than a petromobile incinerating itself. Sorry EV fans and apologizers, it just is. Lithium batteries have a very low self-discharge rate when not connected to a load, so a wrecked EV could be sitting there in a yard like a small unexploded device. When the "experts" like Murilee come along to wrench off spare parts, who knows what can happen? Any dolt knows that removing a gas cap and flicking a BIC can be a problem. I knew one in my high school class and he had no hair and looked like he'd had been roasting in the Caribbean sun the next day - too bad it was February and snowing, and he was lucky as he was blown into a snowdrift. But there's no way to know how to approach a derelict EV with your Harbor Freight Deluxe tool kit and be safe, no handy points to probe with a voltmeter if you really don't want to blind yourself with a possible electric arc flash by causing an inadvertent short. There's plenty to ponder for the future, But luckily, living in the West and not subject to any electronic surveillance whatsoever by anyone at all like Alexa phoning home with your every cough and unravelling noise of a spinning toilet roll holder, the Chinese who live in a different dystopia of unreality seem to be actively pursuing EV safety programs, while free minds are bogged down with the ratio of petromobile to EV fires, not what to do before as in prevention and after when facing an actual EV fire event. Let's get real on the technical side without bringing up extraneous arguments that get us all nowhere.

  • Dantes_inferno Dantes_inferno on Jun 19, 2019

    Break out the marshmallows.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Auto insurance renewal every six months. Ten year old car, good driving record, own my own home, excellent credit score, no teenagers on the policy, etc, etc, etc.Yet, I pay thru the nose!!!!!Adds on the morning news brag about $500k settlements.I paid less when I lived in New York State.
  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.