You might have read about a fire incident in Chennai. Thankfully, everyone is safe, which is our main priority. We have got a better understanding of the situation and would like to share more details with you.
A vehicle had an accident and was brought to the service centre by the customer. As there was a lot of dust and mud on the vehicle, a high pressure water wash was performed to ensure smooth service of the vehicle. However, while removing the body panels our teams discovered a crack at a particular location on the top casing of the battery pack, likely due to the accident. By now, unfortunately water had entered into the battery pack due to the high pressure wash around the crack itself.
Our vehicles are designed to ensure a safe operation in all scenarios, and in fact the battery pack is IP67 rated, meaning it can survive being submerged in water for 30 mins - and every single battery pack at Ather is tested for the same. However, by letting in water through a crack in the casing and hence exposing 224 cells (within the battery pack) to water is an impossible to solve scenario and the pack could not be saved now. As soon as this was observed, the vehicle was isolated from other vehicles and moved to a safer area. Predictably, the cells had been shorted from inside due to the presence of water, and this led to a thermal runaway event which led to the smoke and the fire, for which our teams called in the concerned department.
This incident is extremely rare in nature and the first time we have observed it in 150 million kms of riding. No other vehicles in the premises were damaged during the incident. As an additional safety measure, we are increasing the number of pre-checks for accident cases to avoid similar situations in the future. To clarify, no operational vehicles or even vehicles in testing have ever had a similar issue and even this issue - with an accident vehicle within the service centre - ought not to repeat with the newly planned pre service inspections. Product quality and safety remain our highest areas of focus.
A note of caution - we also found that a few screws surrounding the battery were replaced with non standard parts of varying lengths, which could have possibly exacerbated the stresses on the battery top panel. While we understand that the market is still familiarising itself with EV architectures and technologies, we still want to stress that for the safety of our EV users, please only use on-spec components (whether you get it serviced by the company or not) and refrain from making any modifications, especially around the battery, battery mounts and wiring areas. Ather remains committed to ensuring the safety of our users and our products.