Taxi Fire Details Released by BYD

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BYD, the top manufacturer of electric vehicles in China, have released the details of the crash and fire that destroyed an electric taxi, killing its three occupants in southern China last Sunday. According to the press release, any vehicle, even a gasoline powered vehicle, would have met the same fate because of the impact of the crash.

The Chinese media reported that the fire had caused shockwaves throughout the Internet in China as well as financial markets on electric cars as it revived fire safety controls for this vehicle platform.

The crash had involved a BYD e6 battery powered electric car, which was hit from the rear by a Nissan GT-R sports car. According to police reports obtained by BYD, the sports car was racing at the speed of 180 kilometers or 112 miles per hour when it rear ended the electric car from behind. As a result, the e6 spun across three lanes of traffic and then slammed into a tree, slicing the vehicle into two, from the rear bumper to the rear seats.

This theory of the crash was supported by police photos released by BYD and it supported the company’s version of the crash. The photo of the crash site showed fifteen cms or six inches in diameter without any sign of a guard rail. The Nissan for its part, hit another car on the road, causing the hit car to roll over and stopping the sports car by the side of the road.

Other reports said that driver of the Nissan was drunk and was with three women at the time. The occupants of the Nissan fled and were unhurt. The driver eventually surrendered to police authorities, admitting responsibility for the accident. There was some doubt as to the identity of the individual, as he did not seem to have been involved in the crash and may just be a fall guy for the real culprit.

According to Paul Lin, Marketing Director and Chief Spokesperson of BYD, the battery packs of the e6 are located under the rear seats and added, “We don’t know what happened – the battery pack burned or the high voltage gear burned or the fabric was lit or maybe some other reason.”

As of the moment, the police authorities have not yet handed the crash vehicle over to the company’s inspectors, thus there is still no determination as to the cause of the fire. It is also not been confirmed if the three occupants of the electric taxi had perished in the fire or died in the crash. China has been known not to be a seat belt safety advocate, thus leading many to conclude that the occupants have died in the crash.

Lin further added that no car could have withstood the impact and quipped, “Maybe a tank, maybe a truck could survive it.”

As a result of the statement, BYD’s shares went up 5.5 percent in the Hong Kong Index, closing at HK$16.08 or nearly US$2.07 after a slump of 5.9 percent last Monday following reports of the incident in Chinese media.