WM Motor SUV catches fire on Wenzhou highway

By Jill Shen
2 min read
WM Motor showcased an updated version of its first production SUV model EX5 in a trade event in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu in September, 2019. (Image credit: WM Motor)
WM Motor showcased an updated version of its EX5 SUV in a trade event in Chengdu in September 2019. (Image credit: WM Motor)

An electric sports-utility vehicle made by WM Motor caught fire on an urban highway in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou on Monday, the carmaker said, after smoke began appearing around the center console and front seats in the vehicle’s interior.

Why it matters: A number of self-igniting car fires this year across the country have sparked public concern over safety issues in China’s electric vehicle (EV) industry and triggered increased government scrutiny.

  • Cars made by Tesla, Chinese EV giant BYD, and EV startup Nio have combusted in cities across the country this year.
  • Three Nio vehicles caught fire separately in fewer than three months, causing the company to issue a recall in late June which affected more than 4,800 cars. Sales of the ES8, Nio’s first electric SUV model, dove 80% in July.

Details: A car made by WM Motor suddenly combusted on Monday morning while running on a highway in Wenzhou, a city in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

  • The fire was extinguished by the local fire department and WM Motor is assisting local authorities in the investigation, a company spokesman said in a statement sent to TechNode on Monday, adding that the battery pack did not appear to be the cause of the fire. There were no injuries.
  • Smoke first appeared near the center console and the front seats in the compact crossover SUV, forcing the driver to stop the car and investigate. A fire then began in the interior of the car, according to the statement.
  • News of the combustion led to criticism on Chinese social media Weibo. Some netizens responding to the company’s statement on its official Weibo account called for result to be published as quickly as possible, while others questioned the quality of the vehicle and its circuitry design.

Context: This isn’t the first time news of a WM Motor vehicle igniting has caught the public eye. A year ago, one of the company’s EX5 test vehicles combusted at a research center in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

  • The company attributed the fire to employees who violated regulations by charging the vehicle during the dismantling procedure, which took place after several rounds of destructive testing. WM Motor began delivering first batch of 500 EX5 SUVs a month later.
  • The Baidu-backed EV maker is a rising star in the Chinese market after delivering a total of 11,312 units in the first eight months of the year, surpassing Nio by about 400 units, according to auto insurance data released by Chinese government.