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China tightens management of new energy vehicle recalls

By Zhang Dandan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-25 13:32
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Visitors look at the electric control system of a new energy car at an industrial expo in Beijing. [Photo by Chen Xiaogen/For China Daily]

As sales of electric cars rise, State Administration for Market Regulation toughens up safety

China is strengthening the management of its system for recalling new energy vehicles, as part of the country's efforts to forge well-organized and high-quality development of the world's largest NEV market.

On its official website, the State Administration for Market Regulation unveiled a notice on March 18, further strengthening the management of new energy vehicle product recalls.

According to the notice, once the new energy vehicles have accidents such as a traffic crash or fire, the automakers that produce or import them should promptly investigate and analyze the causes of those accidents and submit the results to the State Administration for Market Regulation.

As for the accidents that happened from Jan 1, 2018 to March 17, 2019, the notice stipulates the involved carmakers should investigate and analyze the causes of those incidents one by one and submit those analysis reports by April 30.

In addition, the notice says the new energy carmakers, as the core producers of new energy vehicles, should establish and improve their traceability information management mechanism, stop producing, selling and importing defective new energy automobiles and recall the defective ones that are sold.

The manufacturers of automobile components and parts, including the power battery, electrical machinery and electronic control systems, are required to inform the automakers and make reports to the State Administration for Market Regulation after they find latent defects in new energy vehicles, according to the notice.

The involved industry associations, scientific research institutions and testing organizations should report any security problems and violations discovered in the new energy industry to the State agency without delay, according to the notice.

Meanwhile, the agency is scheduled to enhance its research on the safety of new energy vehicles, establish in-depth investigation and analysis mechanism for new energy vehicle fire accidents and intensify its supervision of new energy vehicle recalls and the investigation of violations of laws and regulations.

The notice is a reflection of trends in the industry. Statistics released by the State Administration for Market Regulation show that China sold a total of 1,256,000 units in the new energy vehicle sector last year, of which about 135,700 were recalled. That equates to at least one recall for every 10 new energy vehicles sold.

BAIC BJEV - BAIC Group's electric vehicle manufacturer - recalled 69,940 cars in 2018, becoming the automaker that recalled the most NEVs last year.

The models recalled cover almost all the new energy models of BAIC BJEV produced from 2012 to 2018, including the E, the EV, the EX, the EU and the EH, the Time Weekly reported.

Meanwhile, some other big name automakers recalled quite a few NEVs in 2018. They are Zotye Auto with 31,300 units, BYD with 10,100 units, JAC Motors with 4,248 units and BMW Brilliance with 2,001 units, according to the Time Weekly.

The biggest differences between the body structures of new energy vehicles and traditional fuel vehicles lie in the battery, electrical machinery and electronic control system, where the main defects are found in NEVs.

"Battery overheating is one of the major causes of fires in new energy vehicles. In the design, manufacture, verification and use of new energy vehicles, relevant technical standards and specification are not strictly observed, which leaves safety hazards," said Ouyang Minggao, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a senior expert in new energy vehicles, the Time Weekly reported.

In the first 10 months of 2018, more than 40 fires have broken out in new energy vehicles in China, according to the State Administration for Market Regulation.

"Since the new energy vehicle is still a fangle in China, the industry needs much more experience," and recalls are an opportunity for research, John Zeng, managing director of LMC Automotive Shanghai, told China Daily.

Besides the problems with batteries, electrical machinery and electronic control systems, some accidents related to the increasingly sophisticated intelligent connectivity and automatic driving systems should be analyzed and investigated, Zeng added.

"The automakers need to understand that recall is not a punitive measure. On the contrary, as the last link in the quality assurance system, a normalized recall mechanism is an effective means to improve the product and the market," Zeng noted.

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