The topic of car safety has recently gripped the Chinese automotive world. Over the past two weeks, two high-profile fatal accidents involving the NIO EC6 and ES8 have occurred on the highway.
As these are the first fatal accidents involving any of the three leading electric car startups (Nio, XPeng, and Li Xiang), discussions about the reliability of driver assistance systems and electric car safety have again begun among experts.
On July 30, the Nio EC6 was involved in an accident when it collided with a concrete obstacle, killing the driver and causing a major fire. A little more than two weeks later, an ES8 driven by a 31-year-old businessman collided with road equipment while driving on the highway, killing the driver.
All of the brand's vehicles are equipped with the Nio to Navigate on Pilot (NOP) system, a driver assistance package with optimized L2 features. The system allows the vehicle to navigate and exit the highway and control overtaking. Although these systems have high performance, they are not reliable and can misjudge stationary objects.
In the second crash on ES8, the NOP system was activated and no hard braking events were recorded: this means that neither the driver nor the vehicle responded to the system messages.
In addition, Nio engineers were seen connecting a laptop to the ES8 wreck without notifying family members or the police. No claims that this was done to disable the vehicles' HV system, although the move does raise concerns about whether the vehicle's data has been altered.