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China Increases EV Safety Checks After Tesla, NIO Fires

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【Summary】After a few high-profile fires involving Tesla and NIO’s electric cars, China is now requiring automakers to double check their EVs.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jun 19, 2019 7:07 AM PT
China Increases EV Safety Checks After Tesla, NIO Fires

Ever since electric vehicles came out, fires have been one of the concerns surrounding the platforms. While a lot of the concern comes from a lack of knowledge regarding how electric cars work and the components found on EVs, electric cars catching on fire has become a well-reported thing. Recent fires involving EVs has spurred the largest EV market, China, to require automakers to perform a safety check on electric cars.

China Taking Extra Precautions With EV Fires

As Bloomberg reports, China has ordered brands manufacturing electric cars to check for potential safety hazards that could lead to a fire or inhibit someone's ability to put out a fire. Specifically, China is requiring automakers to look at their battery boxes, high-voltage wiring harnesses, waterproof protection, and on-board charging devices. Automakers have until the end of October to submit their findings to the government.

The new requirement comes after a few Teslas and an electric vehicle from NIO caught fire in the country. Earlier this May, a Tesla Model S caught fire after the driver finished charging the electric car in Hong Kong. Another Tesla caught fire earlier this year in Shanghai, too. After the set of fires, Tesla came out with a software update to tweak the battery management software settings that handle the charging and thermal controls.

One of NIO's flagship vehicles, the ES8 SUV, caught fire in China earlier this June. This is the third instance of an ES8 catching fire. Earlier in April, an ES8 SUV caught fire while being repaired. The ES8 is a high-performance electric SUV that's on par with the Tesla Model X.

EV Fires Are An Issue In China

The Chinese government's new safety checks aren't limited to new electric vehicles. Bloomberg claims that the checks should also be completed on vehicles that have already been sold. The government wants special attention to be paid to used electric cars that get driven a lot, like cabs.

Tesla and NIO aren't the only brands that are having trouble with fires when it comes to electric cars. Audi recently recalled its e-tron SUV – the first electric vehicle from the brand – over a battery fire risk. The recall affects 1,644 SUVs.

Electric car fires have been a large issue for China in the past year. As the outlet claims, China recorded roughly 40 fire-related incidents involving new-energy cars, which include fuel-cell vehicles, hybrid plug-ins, and electric cars, in 2018. The State Administration for Market Regulation has called for stricter regulations when it comes to NEV quality and recalled approximately 130,000 vehicles last year.

While electric cars and fires have become two things that are intertwined because of multiple occurrences, Bloomberg claims that electric vehicles are not at a higher risk of catching on fire compared to gasoline-powered cars. A report by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration actually points toward the opposite, states the outlet.

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