New energy vehicles “on fire”: Beijing urges the industry to launch strict safety checks | Digital Asia

News Update

A BYD NEV on in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, on September 10. Image Credit: Che Gulu Hua

China’s Ministry of and Information Technology (MIIT) is urging new vehicle (NEV) manufacturers to closely monitor their products’ performance and will begin random national quality with its affiliates.

To set up state regulation for the industry’s product design and operational management, the department will soon circulate documents regarding the government’s new guidance and comments on the NEV industry.

This is not the first time the government body has expressed concern over the NEV industry’s quality control capabilities.

On September 4, the MIIT’s equipment affiliate, which often tackles strategically crucial equipment and device issues, sent out an official notice (in Chinese) to NEV manufacturers to inform them of upcoming national safety-check decisions.

The notice highlighted the key vehicle components to which manufacturers have to pay specific attention, and carefully listed safety-check steps and procedures manufacturers have to follow. These companies are also required to submit written safety check reports by the end of October 2018.

Optimum Nano, a Shenzhen-based battery manufacturer listed on China’s National Equities Exchange and Quotations, was identified as a subject of an investigation in the ministry’s official notice. The probe was due to accidents the company’s products allegedly caused. However, the official document and local media released no detailed reports on what incidents Optimum Nano’s products had caused. The company is also reportedly experiencing financial difficulties, as Reuters reported.

According to Optimum Nano, by the end of 2017, there were over 80,000 vehicles in 34 provincial and municipal markets around China that were equipped with its products.

Additionally, the MIIT’s recent moves are a response to increasing NEV accidents in the country.

On June 12, a BAIC NEV’s chassis was found on fire outside an automotive service and sale store. The company didn’t comment on either the incident or the car model. Insiders from the NEV industry suspected battery quality was a potential cause given that the vehicle was not connecting to any pile to charge, and no external force was acting on the car.

On August 26, an electric bus manufactured by Ankai caught fire in Tongling, Guizhou.  Though this time its manufacturer admitted that the cause was its battery, it didn’t reveal the name of the manufacturer.

In the same week, a 650EV, manufactured by Lifan Group, caught fire. The flames completely swallowed the vehicle. Lifan Group admitted that the battery caused the incident. The company said that it had been monitoring the battery and informed the driver to park the car and wait for support. Prior to the incident, a number of the company’s cars were recalled due to the state’s suspicions about their quality.

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