Two people were killed after a Nio testing car plummeted off the third floor of a parking garage at the company’s Shanghai headquarters on Wednesday. The electric vehicle maker claimed that its vehicle was not at fault in the accident.

Why it matters: If the vehicle was not at fault, the incident should not greatly impact Nio’s vehicle sales. However, it potentially delivers another blow to the company’s reputation following a high-profile accident involving a Nio car last year.

Details: Based on preliminary investigations by the local police, there is no indication that the deaths of the two testing workers were related to an issue with the vehicle, Nio said on Thursday in an announcement published on the Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.

  • The two workers – one a Nio employee, the other a staff of a partner company – were testing Nio’s digital cockpit features and were killed Wednesday afternoon after the car drove off from the third floor of the garage and landed on the company’s campus in the city’s Jiading district. The tragic case was an “accident unrelated to the vehicle,” the company added in their statement.
  • Nio shares closed slightly up 2.2% on Thursday amid a broad market rally that saw rivals Xpeng Motors and Li Auto jump 7.8% and 6.6%, respectively.

Context: Last year, Nio’s credibility took a hit when a 31-year-old Chinese entrepreneur died in a car crash while driving his Nio ES8 with the car’s driver-assistance functions activated. Nio notes in its user manual that the company’s technology currently requires active driver supervision and does not make the vehicle autonomous.

  • Nio’s vehicle margin fell to 18.1% in the first quarter of this year, down from the 21.2% during the same period last year and the 20.9% recorded for the fourth quarter of 2021, due to the industry’s ongoing supply chain constraints, worsened by China’s Covid lockdowns.
  • The Tencent-backed EV maker delivered 37,866 vehicles for the first five months of this year, an 11.8% increase from a year earlier. Deliveries of rivals Xpeng Motors and Li Auto more than doubled year-on-year to 53,688 and 47,379 vehicles over the same period.
  • Earlier this month, the Shanghai-headquartered automaker launched the ES7, a new electric sports utility vehicle that boasts improved comfort and advanced self-driving technologies, with a starting price of RMB 468,000 ($69,825). 

Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen