On Tuesday, Chinese electric-vehicle maker Nio announced that certain data related to its users and vehicle sales in China before August 2021 had been leaked and was being illegally sold by third parties on the internet.

Why it matters: Nio said in its statement that it deeply regrets the incident. The company also said it has set up a dedicated hotline and an email address to respond to the data leakage. Moreover, a Nio customer service representative told Chinese media CLS (in Chinese) that it will not take the initiative to seek out customers to compensate but will take responsibility for the losses incurred. 

  • The alleged cyberattack on Nio comes at a time when Chinese authorities are demanding companies step up efforts to protect personal information and strengthen corporate responsibility. 

Details: The EV maker said in the Chinese version of the Tuesday statement that it received an email on Dec. 11 from hackers demanding $2.25 million worth of bitcoin in exchange for not disclosing Nio’s internal data.

  • “Nio deeply regrets that this incident happened, and will continue to work with government authorities to investigate the incident,” the Shanghai-based company said in the statement, adding that it was committed to protecting data security and the privacy of its users.
  • In April, the auto manufacturer reported that one of its employees used the company’s internal server to mine Ethereum, which it says had affected the security of Nio’s system and business information.

Context: Automakers are facing increased threats from data breaches and their impacts — affecting customers’ lives and bruising companies’ reputations.

  • Japanese automaker Toyota admitted in October that the personal information of nearly 300,000 customers had been leaked after one of its development subcontractors improperly handled the source code of the auto manufacturer’s official connectivity application T-Connect.
  • In August, German auto parts manufacturer Continental said it had been targeted by a cyberattack that resulted in 40 GB of files being stolen. Bloomberg cited Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper as saying that the leaked data may include information related to customers of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, AI, and blockchain. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]technode.com.