Telangana: EV firm ordered to pay consumer Rs 10 L as vehicle caught fire

The commission pointed out that Benling handled the situation carelessly and neglected to even respond to the notification or show up for it

Hyderabad: The consumer forum has ordered an electric vehicle manufacturer in Telangana to compensate a customer with Rs 10 lakh after his vehicle battery exploded resulting in fire.

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The commission issued the order upon hearing a complaint under Section 35(1) of the Consumer Protection Act. The complaint said that an electric scooter that was purchased from Benling in April 2021 abruptly burst in flames February 2023.

Upon learning that in spite of the consumer raising their concerns, neither the vehicle’s dealer nor the manufacturer paid them a visit or returned their calls, the commission issued notice to the dealer and manufacturer.

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In a statement, district consumer disputes redressal commission member Makyam Vijay Kumar and President Gajjala Venkateswarlu stressed that it is the manufacturer’s duty to determine what caused the explosion. The commission concluded that the manufacturer in this instance displayed a lack of care.

In addition to requesting a new scooter, the complainants demanded Rs 13.5 lakh in damages and Rs 40,000 in legal fees. Alternatively, they asked for payment equal to the scooter’s purchase price plus 18% annual interest if a replacement was not possible.

The commission pointed out that Benling handled the situation carelessly and neglected to even respond to the notification or show up for it. The commission underlined that a vehicle’s battery explosion can occur for a variety of reasons, so it is acceptable for the manufacturer to identify and address those reasons.

“If it persists in all other vehicles sold by them, they may recall the products and rectify them to avoid potential loss of property and life,” the commission stated.

The commission said that in cases where a product is faulty and unreasonably unsafe, putting the safety of a reasonable user at risk, a customer may pursue legal action against the maker under Sections 84 to 86 of the Act.

Based on the evidence presented, the Commission determined that the complainants were entitled to damages for both the faulty goods and services and the manufacturers’ and sellers’ product responsibility.

As a result, it partially granted the complaint and ordered the dealer and the manufacturer to pay the car’s purchase price plus 9.5 percent annual depreciation, or to replace the vehicle. The court also ordered a payment of Rs 10,000 for litigation fees and Rs 10 lakh for damages.

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