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Hazards with Leading Ideal One puts NEV safety in spotlight

By Zhang Dandan | China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-18 10:19
A visitor examines the chassis of the Leading Ideal One, an extended range electric vehicle launched by CHJ Automotive on Oct 18, 2018, in Beijing. [Photo/Zhang Dandan for China Daily]

A Leading Ideal One, an extended-range electric vehicle from CHJ Automotive, burst into flames in a street of Changsha, Central China's Hunan province on May 8.

It set back the startup's ability to market its products and brought the safety of NEVs back into the spotlight.

"Before the accident, there were two explosions, followed by smoke and fire," said the owner of the Leading Ideal One, reported.

The fire reportedly broke out in the front engine compartment. Thankfully no one was injured with firefighters arriving to douse the flames.

At 1 pm that day, an hour after the incident, CHJ Automotive responded on its official Sina Weibo account, saying that after an on-site test no problem was found in the vehicle's battery system.

The vehicle has been moved for further tests and the results of the follow-up investigation will be released in the future.

On Tuesday, the owner of the burned vehicle in Hunan said the analysis conducted by relevant professionals revealed the fire did not happen as a result of a problem with the range extender or the fuel system, nor an issue with the battery or the motor. The specific reasons for the fire are still under investigation.

Leading Ideal One, an SUV, is the first model from CHJ, with 6,500 units delivered since last December.

The accident is not unique. On May 7, an owner of another Leading Ideal One complained that his car suddenly failed to brake on the highway.

The braking generated by power recovery finally made the vehicle stop.

On Tuesday, CHJ Automotive apologized for the incident and said it was a rare case caused by sub-standard supplies. The company reiterated that there is no large-scale risk.

According to CHJ, the defective part was sent to its supplier for technical investigation, which showed that an electronic component of the part was found to have accidental communication failure, resulting in the failure of its brake-assist system.

The safety of electric vehicles is the subject of much consumer attention, with the NEV industry needing to prove itself in order to gain more buyer trust.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology launched three mandatory national standards on the safety of electric vehicles.

The new standards will be implemented starting Jan 1, 2021.

The national standards propose to improve both the safety of electric vehicles and the accuracy of relevant tests and detections.

The standards require electric vehicles to be equipped with an alarm to signal when the battery system is overheating.

The battery system should not catch fire or explode within five minutes after overheating occurs in the battery unit, the regulations state.

China's NEV standards are the first mandatory national standards for the country's electric vehicle industry. The standards are of great significance in improving the safety of NEVs and help ensure the sustainable development of the industry, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

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