Beijing urges EV makers to launch safety inspections for car fires

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Screenshot of a video showing Nio’s fire incident in Wuhan, the capital of central Chinese province Hubei on June 14, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode)

After a number of videos showing car fires involving electric cars have gone viral online in China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is urging electric vehicle (EV) makers to launch immediate investigations into the fires, and conduct follow-up checks using “all possible means.”

The ministry is requiring EV companies in a file released Monday to start investigations and report results “in a timely and faithful manner.” Authorities will require recalls if investigations confirm any quality issues, and punishment will be doled out for hiding any problems, the ministry said.

Authorities also urged EV makers to conduct a “complete” safety check on cars including those already sold, including testing key components such as batteries and charging devices and submitting a report by the end of October. Companies will also need to establish 24-hour crisis hotlines to address incidents, notify affected customers, and report to the government when necessary.

The requirements follow shortly after a Nio ES8 caught fire in a parking space on the street in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Friday. The incident was the third incident involving one of its vehicles combusting in the past two months, the company confirmed. Nio in early May attributed the first reported case of one of its vehicles in April catching fire in Xi’an to a severe chassis impact which caused the car battery to short circuit.

Two weeks later, another of its premium SUV models caught fire in a parking lot near the company’s headquarters in Shanghai. Two of Tesla’s Model S vehicles combusted in separate incidents around the same period. Neither Nio or Tesla have revealed the results of their investigations, prompting broad criticism on Chinese social networks.

“The government should order Nio to immediately stop selling until it figures out the problems and communicates the results,” (our translation) a netizen commented in a Weibo announcement released Friday by Nio.

The impending summer will only bring rising temperatures so self-igniting incidents will definitely continue, another user remarked.