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Highlighting the violation of CMVR & CCPA norms in the sale of low-speed Electric 2Ws

A group of lawyers has highlighted critical violations of CMVR and safety norms going on in the manufacturing and sales of ‘Low Speed electric scooters‘, and the team has been pursuing the matter in the Bangalore High Court and Delhi High Court. One of the members of the group, Bangalore-based lawyer Mr Amit Agrawal approached EVreporter to talk about their efforts.

As per regulation, low-speed electric two-wheelers are RTO exempted and do not require registration, license, a helmet or insurance. The regulations allow the electric 2Ws with upto 250 Watt motor and max speed 25km/h to be exempt from registration.

Here’s an excerpt of our communication with Mr Amit Agrawal

What are the violations highlighted by you and your team?

1) Absence of Type Approval Certificate (TAC)

Many of the low-speed EV 2W OEMs have not even obtained the exemption TAC certificates from ARAI/ICAT to sell low-speed electric scooters. Many state RTO authorities are also not aware of the fact that obtaining exemption TAC from ARAI/ICAT is mandatory to sell even low-speed electric scooters or e-bicycles below 25 KMPH. Such vehicles are completely devoid of any testing before being handed over to the consumer.

2) Violation of Speed Limits

Many of the so-called
low-speed electric scooters” are capable of speeds well above the upper cutoff of 25 kmph and even touching as high as 50 to 60 kmph, and thus in serious violation of various CMVR and CCAP norms. This is a devious way to circumvent all the vehicle homologation norms by the concerned EV 2W OEMs to sell non-registered vehicles, and poses a serious risk to the rider and also any third party: be it a person or property. In many cases, the rider is not a valid driver’s license holder being an underage individual. 

3) Concerns with Lithium Ion Battery Safety

Most of the Lithium Ion batteries being used in the Low-speed electric scooters neither have a valid BIS certification nor any AIS certification obtained through the approved vehicle homologation and testing agencies.

4) Lack of Product Traceability

The low-speed electric vehicles being sold today have no traceability of the vehicle make, certification number and any other critical information related to components like battery, motor, chassis etc as necessary to identify the vehicle. If you look at low-value products like mobile phones, laptops etc, all have 100% tracking of the product, components and certification numbers being displayed to the public.

5) Lack of Vehicle Insurance

Any vehicle involved in any serious road accident causing self or/and third-party damage will be difficult to trace as, in some cases, it would be difficult to identify both the OEM/Dealer and the owner of the vehicle. All the low-speed electric scooters are exempted from purchasing vehicle insurance, which is a grave concern from both individual and third-party safety perspectives. 

6) Burgeoning Growth of the Low-Speed Electric Scooter Industry

A preliminary analysis of the import data on the electric scooters being imported from China under the Completely Knocked Down (CKD) approach reveals massive growth numbers across 100s of trading companies. In the FY22 & Q1 FY23 alone, almost 4 lakh low-speed electric scooters were imported under three to four HSN codes. Some of these companies are importing such scooters in 100% CKD form, and overall 3 Lakh low-speed electric scooters are imported under just HSN codes 87116010 and 87116020, and if we go for wider imports data with general HSN codes of 8714 or 8711, then around 10 lakh low-speed electric scooters in CKD form imported in last 2 years. 

The same data can be obtained through the customs department, and if needed, we can share the same by hard copies to individual offices, as file sizes are exceeding 50 MB spanning over 100s of trading companies. 

How are you highlighting these issues to relevant authorities?

We have been escalating these risks pertaining to the public by appealing in various high courts through PILs and continuously writing to state RTOs to conduct drives to verify the speed limits across dealerships of these OEMs. However, these companies are still thriving to sell such illegal electric scooters as the regulatory framework is missing both at the vehicle level and, indeed at the battery level.

So far, only states like Maharashtra and Karnataka RTOs have started taking corrective measures, and majority of other state RTOs are ignorant about these CMVR violations. We have also lodged two different complaints with MoRTH on this matter and they have been formally registered by the Ministry. Upon our continuous pleas, the Hon’ble Union Minister Nitin Gadkari also wrote to individual state RTOs to take stringent action against the illegal electric scooters which are in violation of CMVR rules.

What recommendations are you making?

We request the honourable authorities to implement the following minimum steps to enable a sustainable growth of the EV industry:

1) Ensure that all low speed scooters under the CMVR exemption category are plying under 25kmph. Wherever violations found, severe penalties need to be imposed by the concerned state RTA authorities on the dealer and the OEMs. Consumers must be made aware of the same CMVR norms. 

2) Mandatory Type approval certification for the Lithium Battery as per AIS156 and/or under BIS 17855:2022 to ensure functional safety for all such Low Speed Vehicles, which are exempted from TAC.

3) OEMs must be instructed to maintain complete traceability of all the critical components including Lithium-ion battery, chassis, motor, charger etc to ensure the accountability at the entire supply chain level and levy penalty as necessary on the OEMs who are at default.

4) Mandatory vehicle insurance for low speed electric scooters to protect any damage to self and to any third party.

5) State RTO officials to check for the Trade Certificate of the particular dealership, and the dealers should be selling the vehicles only as per the the state STA/TC records in the state RTO portal.

While appreciating the Ease of Business approach that the union government of India has adopted for EVs, we believe that the above requirements are the bare minimum and can be implemented through adequate systems and compliance at all OEM levels.

  • Officials from MoRTH must instruct the state RTOs to conduct immediate vigilant drives across all dealers/OEMs whoever are selling such electric scooters in violation of CMVR rules. 
  • State RTOs/MoRTH to take stringent action against all such OEMs with the applicable penalties. 
  • MoRTH also must instruct ARAI/ICAT to check their records to write to all the OEMs to whomsoever they have issued these CMVR exemption certificates and to ensure that all these OEMs manufacture products in compliance with the CMVR exemption norms.

We appreciate MoRTH for trying to bring amended AIS 156 norms for the L category of electric vehicles, and the consumer affairs ministry for announcing the BIS 17855:2022 norms for electric vehicles. However, both of these new regulations seems not directly applicable for the exempted category (< 25 KMPH top speed) electric scooters, as lithium batteries in these most of these CMVR exempted scooters are not going to through any kind of certification.

Any concluding thoughts?

It is indeed high time that the so-called “Low Speed Electric Scooters” industry is immediately brought under bare minimum regulation in the interest of the safety of the end consumers and the public at large before lakhs of such illegal electric scooters are sold to the end consumers.  

I’m open to receiving comments from the fraternity at amitagrawal.llm@proton.me.

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