Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly ubiquitous worldwide. Sales of EVs globally are growing more and more, with 2020 seeing EVs represent 2.6% of total auto sales. It might not sound like much, but that’s a 40% year-over-year increase. As such, discussion of EVs and how to accommodate them are on the rise. But there’s one piece of technology in these vehicles that’s leading to great controversy. Nio (NYSE:NIO) is at the forefront of this controversy after a Nio owner suffered a fatal crash in China. Now, NIO stock is tanking and bearish chatter on self-driving tech is heating up.
Self-driving technology is one of the biggest draws of EVs and also one of the biggest controversies. The argument against self-driving cars has recently been fizzling out in favor of more bullish talk about electric vehicles. But, the topic is seeing a rekindled interest. That’s because a fatal accident involving a Nio car reportedly took place while the vehicle was driving itself. Here’s what you need to know about it.
Nio Stock Falls After Fatal Autopilot Crash
- Details are emerging around the death of Lin Wenqin, a 31-year-old Chinese man who died after his Nio ES8 collided with a construction vehicle on a highway in the Fujian province of China.
- Lin reportedly had his Nio vehicle in “navigate on pilot” mode, or NoP.
- NoP mode is Nio’s self-driving feature, allowing vehicles to automatically change lanes on highways.
- Driving data from Lin’s vehicle is now available and shows that the vehicle maintained reasonable speeds. Additionally, it showed that Lin used the vehicle’s NoP feature for about half of the trip in which the accident occurred.
- According to the vehicle’s manual, drivers must immediately assume control over the vehicle in construction zones. This is because the NoP feature is only in a beta testing phase. Nio vehicles cannot detect static obstacles at this point in time.
- The company is obviously caught in controversy after Lin’s death, but things are escalating as lawyers for Lin’s family accuse Nio of having unfair private access to the car from the fatal trip. Concerns are rising that the company can use this private access to alter driving data.
- Nio rejects these claims, saying its service personnel are accessing the vehicle only to ensure battery safety.
- Of course, this type of controversy surrounding EVs and self-driving tech is not new. Elon Musk’s Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is one of the first automakers, and the very first electric vehicle company, to offer self-driving cars to the public.
- Many tend to associate the company with its role in the first ever self-driving car death; a man behind the wheel of a Tesla Model 3 was killed when a technical malfunction sent the vehicle into a tractor-trailer while in autopilot.
- NIO stock is falling in the midst of the news. Shares are down nearly 7%.
On the date of publication, Brenden Rearick did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.