EV maker Nio issues massive recall following spate of vehicle fires in China

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An ES8 at Nio’s booth during Auto Shanghai 2019. (Photo credit: TechNode/Chris Udemans)

Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Nio on Thursday issued a recall of more than a quarter of all vehicles sold, saying that it has found a battery flaw that could result in potential safety hazards.

The move follows several incidents in which the company’s cars have self-ignited, as well as a government order calling for EV makers to minimize the risks of battery fires.

Nio said in a statement on microblogging platform Weibo that the recall will affect more than 4,800 of its flagship ES8 SUVs sold between April and October 2018. As of the end of May the company had delivered around 17,500 vehicles. Nio said that in extreme cases the flaw could result in a battery short circuit and that it would issue new batteries for any affected vehicles.

The recall follows three separate incidents in recent months in which ES8s have caught fire. In April, a Nio vehicle ignited while parked at a service center in central China. A month later an ES8 caught fire while parked at the company’s headquarters in Shanghai. A third fire broke out in June in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Nio said it had found the flaw following an investigation into the recent incidents. An initial inquiry found that one of the fires had been caused by a short circuit, which the company said occurred as a result of chassis damage. Meanwhile, two of US EV maker Tesla’s vehicles self-combusted in China during the same period. Tesla has not released the results of its investigation.

“We apologize to users and the public for the troubles caused by recent battery safety incidents,” Nio said in its recent statement on Weibo.

Earlier this month, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued an order urging EV makers to investigate the fires and take all necessary precautions to prevent further incidents. The government body said that it would require recalls if any quality issues were found, and checks should include vehicles that had already been sold. The ministry promised to punish companies that intentionally hide problems.