BEV Fires Encourage China to Get Serious About Battery Safety, Vehicle Monitoring
China is currently the largest proponent of electric vehicles on the entire planet. The nation has even incorporated BEVs as a significant part of its complex strategy to overtake the United States the dominant global superpower. However a sudden influx of battery related fires has caused it some trepidation, even though there hasn’t been much evidence to suggest they are actually more prone to catching fire than gas-powered vehicles.
Regardless, the People’s Republic is now demanding that manufacturers conduct routine inspections on electric cars. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says all companies must conduct checks on BEVs, focusing on battery waterproofing, battery boxes, charging points, high-voltage wiring harnesses, and even the wear of mechanical components. They will also be required to report on repairs and any incidents that might indicate a problem. According to the ministry’s press release, they have until October to submit their findings.
Those inspections will not be limited to factory vehicles. China said EVs already been sold to the public should also be checked, with extra attention being given to high-milage vehicles like busses and cabs. For personal transport, the ministry said manufacturers needed to “clearly inform the user when the vehicle triggers the conditions” so they can return the cars for inspection. Triggers include routine maintenance schedules, any accidents, the car being exposed to standing water, and all noteworthy system malfunctions (heat management, overcharge, etc).
However, this should be relatively easy to do since China has put in place an impressive system that effectively spies on all drivers with connected EVs. Automakers are required by the state to share the data collected from these vehicles with local government centers and a national lab that tracks the cars in real time.
China claims this is being done to promote safety, improve city planning, and reduce harmful emissions. But it’s also the only country in the whole world that does it. While other nations do collect driving data from automakers that monitor the status of connected vehicles, it’s not mandated by the government or sent to government-backed monitoring centers.
In its release, the Chinese ministry said manufacturers should likewise monitor for safety issues “24-7” by implementing an all-day-every-day program to ensure the drivers of at-risk vehicles be notified immediately. This information is then supposed to be delivered to “local and national regulatory platforms within one day.”
Bloomberg, which glossed over much of the data sharing, said that China is upset over the highly publicized battery fires from Tesla and NIO. The country recorded at least 40 fire-related incidents stemming from new-energy vehicles in 2018. The State Administration for Market Regulation also recalled 130,000 new-energy vehicles last year, which it claimed was unacceptable.