According to a video circulating across Chinese social media on January 29, an L9, Li Auto’s newest SUV, appeared to spontaneously ignite on a roadside in the city of Jinan, Shandong Province. The fire, which was very fierce, fortunately did not result in any casualties.
According to screenshots of phone messages posted online, a social media user suspected of being the vehicle owner said that after hearing a bang inside the car while driving, indicators prompted a braking failure, and the vehicle started to burn less than one minute after pulling over. In response to the matter, Li Auto said, “Local departments have been involved, and the cause of the accident is subject to official appraisal.”
The L9 model was released in June last year. As a large SUV, the official starting price of the car is 459,800 yuan ($68,072). The car officially began delivery at the end of August, and over 10,000 units were delivered in September. Li Xiang, the founder of Li Auto, once described the L9 as the best household SUV priced at less than 5 million yuan.
Li Xiang has frequently compared this vehicle with the BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLS and Rolls-Royce Cullinan, bringing it higher attention across the market. However, before being driven by consumers, the SUV has often been reported to experience quality problems.
In July last year, an L9 test car experienced a suspension problem as the left front wheel of the car wasn’t running normally. Subsequently, the firm responded that the test car rushed through a deep pit of more than 20 cm at a speed of 90 km/h, causing the buffer ring inside the empty spring to be damaged. It was emphasized that the strength of the buffer ring in the mass-production version is 2.5 times that of the trial version, and there will be no problems in the case of greater impacts.
Only a couple of weeks later, L9 test car quality problems attracted concern again. One blogger said the accident was caused by the failure of active braking, causing the car to hit a guardrail and incur damage. Subsequently, the firm released a video of the driving recorder, responding that no one was injured in the accident, and that the air spring was intact.
In order to offset negative impacts, Li Auto issued a statement shortly after the incident, saying that it had decided to upgrade the air spring warranty scheme of the L9 to eight years, and the second-hand L9 transaction did not affect the validity period of the warranty.
Nearly half a year after the air suspension quality problem subsided, one user’s L9’s high-speed NOA failed without warning or active braking, eventually leading to a traffic accident. Regarding the matter, Li Xiang appealed to the car owner to announce the whole process of the intelligent driving assistance system, and visually popularize the working principle of assisted driving without involving safety and privacy concerns.