Chinese EV makers Great Wall, Chery recall about 18,000 cars over battery safety concerns

·3-min read

Two Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are recalling about 18,000 cars over battery safety concerns, a development that is likely to cast a shadow on the fast-growing sector.

While Great Wall Motors, China’s largest sport-utility vehicle (SUV) maker, is recalling 16,216 of its Ora iQ cars assembled between July 7, 2018 and October 30, 2019, Chery Automobile is recalling 1,407 Arrizo 5e vehicles made between July 20, 2018 and May 28, 2019.

The Great Wall EVs were found to have faulty battery management systems (BMS), which could cause declining performance and potential fire hazard in extreme situations, said the State Administration for Market Regulations. The Chery cars faced similar concerns after long-term usage, according to the regulator.

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“In the EV sector, battery safety is always a big issue,” said Chen Jinzhu, the CEO of Shanghai Mingliang Auto Service, which offers vehicle maintenance services and sells second-hand cars. “The recalls are set to affect the companies’ sales,” he added.

China hopes to become a global leader in the EV industry under its “Made in China 2025” master industrial plan, with leading assemblers and component makers grasping core technologies by 2025.

Great Wall and Chery would not comment on the batteries they used in the models. Batteries are viewed as one of the most important parts in EVs, as they decide a car’s driving range.

Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), China’s largest supplier of batteries, denied that the batteries involved in the recalls were supplied by it. Shanghai-listed Farasis Energy, another battery supplier, said in a statement that it had supplied only the modules for EVs made by Great Wall, while it was the BMS that had triggered the recall.

This is not the first time questions have been raised about the quality and safety of Chinese-made EV batteries. In August, 2018, at least five EVs including those made by Lifan Motors and WM Motor, caught fire in just a single month.

The latest recall follows a call back of about 285,000 EVs by Tesla last month because of a cruise control malfunction that could cause its cars to accelerate suddenly. The recall involved nearly all of the US carmaker’s Shanghai-made EVs produced between December 2019 and June this year.

About 1.1 million new-energy vehicles, which comprise pure electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, were sold in China last year, an increase of 12 per cent over 2019. The China Passenger Car Association recently forecast that this number could more than double to 2.4 million units in 2021.

Swiss bank UBS forecast in March this year that one in every four new cars on China’s roads in 2025 will be powered by electric batteries, which translates to 6.6 million EVs.

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