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NEV users to get better customer protection

By ZHANG DANDAN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-02 08:52

BMW displays its electric model, the iX3, at the Nanjing auto show in October 2020. WANG LUXIAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Manufacturers required to assume greater liability for components that are faulty

China, the world's largest new energy vehicle market, is taking steps to improve NEV aftersales service with updated regulations regarding liability for returns, repairs and replacements-the "three guarantees" policy, which were introduced last week.

To take effect from Jan 1, 2022, the updated regulations include significant amendments with regard to companies' responsibilities to customers regarding faulty NEVs.

Power batteries and motors are included in the new regulations as main auto parts, and will enjoy the same warranty rights as the engines and transmissions of gasoline vehicles.

According to the updated regulations, within seven days from the effective date of the "three guarantees" policy, if the engine, transmission, power battery, drive motor or any other main part needs to be replaced due to quality issues, the seller must replace or accept the returned purchase free of charge.

Within 60 days from the effective date of the "three guarantees" policy, or driving fewer than 3,000 kilometers, faulty main parts with quality issues, including engines, transmissions, power batteries and drive motors must be replaced free of charge.

If there are quality problems such as the failure of steering system, failure of the braking system, body cracks, fuel leakage or a faulted power battery within 60 days from the effective date of the "three guarantees" policy, or driving fewer than 3,000 km, the seller must replace the faulty parts free of charge or accept the returned purchase.

The new "three guarantees" policy is being introduced under the premise of the rapid growth of NEV ownership, and is a necessary measure to protect the legitimate rights and interests of NEV customers, according to analysts.

Statistics from China's Ministry of Public Security show that as of June 2021, China had 6.03 million NEVs on its roads, accounting for 2.06 percent of the country's total number of vehicles.

Side by side with rapid growth, the safety of NEVs has aroused concern.

According to the State Administration for Market Regulation, from July 16, Chery Automobile recalled 1,407 Arrizo 5e electric vehicles produced between July 20, 2018 and May 28, 2019.

Great Wall Motors recalled 16,216 Ora IQ EVs produced between July 7, 2018 and Oct 30, 2019.

Some power batteries used in the recalled Great Wall Motors vehicles had been inconsistent with the software control policy of the battery management system, according to the official website of the State Administration for Market Regulation.

After long-term continuous and frequent fast charging, the performance of the battery decreases, and thermal runaway of the power battery may occur in extreme cases, causing fire.

The assembly of some parts in the power batteries of some recalled Chery vehicles have a similar consistency fluctuation. After long-term use of the vehicle, a thermal runaway of the power battery may occur when the bottom of the vehicle is affected by an abnormal impact or several jolting.

The Chery vehicles may have design flaws and the recall is mainly due to loose parts, said Zhang Xiang, a researcher at the automobile industry innovation research center of North China University of Technology.

Big changes may be carried out by Chery to the recalled vehicles, which may involve the dismantling of the battery pack, Zhang added.

There have been a number of vehicle recalls recently due to power battery issues.

In late May, BMW Brilliance recalled 6,636 China-made iX3 EVs produced between Sept 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021, due to a design problem in the vehicle's battery control unit software.

BMW Brilliance announced that it will upgrade the battery control unit software for the recalled vehicles for free via an over-the-air update, allowing users to complete the software upgrade without visiting the store.

For vehicles that cannot complete the software upgrade remotely, BMW Brilliance will contact the users through authorized dealers to upgrade the software for free to help eliminate safety risks.

In March, BAIC BJEV Changzhou, BAIC and BAIC Guangzhou recalled a total of 31,963 EX360 and EU400 EVs produced between Nov 1, 2016 and Dec 21, 2018, due to a lack of consistency in some vehicles' power battery systems.

A battery pack is a complex component composed of multiple individual battery modules, and each module is monitored by a sensor. Before its mass production, the battery pack must pass all kinds of tests according to national requirements, including high-temperature and high-voltage tests, Zhang said.

"With all the tests passed, the battery pack is safe and controllable …consumers need not worry too much about its safety," Zhang added.

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