NIO Recalls Nearly 5,000 Electric SUVs After Battery Fires in China

Leading Chinese EV startup NIO has recalled nearly 5,000 of its ES8 electric SUVs after multiple reports of battery fires surfaced over the last few months in China. SUVs built between April 2nd, 2018, and October 19th, 2018, are included in the recall and will need to have their battery packs replaced. It will take two months to swap out battery packs on all of the affected vehicles, the company says.

The issue is with the battery packs themselves, according to an investigation performed by NIO with the help of “industry experts,” the supplier of the pack, and “other concerned parties.” They found that a module in the battery pack was, in some cases, pressing up against a voltage sampling cable in the wiring harness. Over time, this repeated contact wore down some of those cables, resulting in short-circuits that led to a handful of fires.

NIO says it switched to a battery pack with a different structural design in October 2018, which is why the recall stops there. The company also says it will compensate “all users that incurred property losses in the incidents caused by battery quality and safety issues, in accordance with relevant laws.”

“NIO would like to sincerely apologize to our users and the public for the trouble caused by the battery safety incidents,” the company wrote in a statement. “As a user enterprise, NIO takes quality concerns seriously and will always act with honesty and transparency. The company also wants to express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who have followed and cared for NIO during these incidents.”

NIO started shipping its first car, the ES8 electric SUV, almost exactly one year ago. Since then, the startup has put over 17,000 of them on the road in China. NIO also became a publicly traded company in the United States in that time, as it has ambitions to eventually expand beyond its home country. NIO also just started shipping the first ES6 SUVs, the company’s second car, which is smaller and more affordable than the ES8.

The recall is not the first bit of trouble NIO has encountered since it started shipping cars. In May, the startup indefinitely delayed an upcoming electric sedan after experiencing lower-than-expected sales in the first quarter of 2019. It also laid off about 3 to 4 percent of its global workforce and closed one of its offices in Silicon Valley. That followed the news from March when NIO announced it was abandoning its plan to build its own factory outside of Shanghai, opting instead to continue outsourcing the production of its cars to state-owned automaker Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group, or JAC Motors.

NIO, which is backed by Tencent, is one of the first high-profile EV startups to ship a car. It’s not alone in dealing with battery fire issues, though. Audi recently recalled a few hundred E-Tron SUVs, also the company’s first electric car, in the United States due to concerns about battery fires (though no incidents were reported at the time). Tesla also recently pushed a software update to some of its cars “out of an abundance of caution,”.