Victims’ Families Sue BYD over e6 Crash Deaths

The second courting hearing over the fatal 5.26 accident began on Jan 22 in Shenzhen, disclosing more details about the BYD e6 crash that killed three people.

Families of the two passengers killed in the e6 demand 1.49 million Yuan in compensation, for each of the two victims, from each of the two companies involved: BYD, the car maker, and Pengcheng, the taxi company that employed the e6. While relatives of the taxi driver, who also died in the e6 that burned after hit by a speeding Nissan GT-R, asked for about 1.2 million Yuan from BYD.

A rich businessman, the owner of the Nissan GT-R that crashed into the e6 has already paid 0.95 million Yuan to each of the three victims’ families.

byd e6 fire

The BYD e6 taxi hit and burned on May 26, 2012

Lawyers of the plaintiffs claimed that BYD had produced sub-standard EVs which posed serious risks to public safety. They wanted the EV maker and taxi company to be admonished, and the public warned of the hazards of their products or services.

BYD, they said, had refused to acknowledge its fault in the accident or offer any apology. "The victims’ families had communicated several times with the accused before filing the lawsuit. Instead of admitting mistakes and apologizing, the latter tried to hide evidence, avoid responsibility, and prevent public hearings on the accident."

The first court hearing was held on November 16 last year, but adjourned only 10 minutes after it began under the request of BYD, who argued for the need to protect its "commercial secrets."

Two months after the crash on May 26, an investigation report was published by a group of government-backed experts, which said BYD was totally clean and itself a victim. Angering many, the report stated no design flaw was found in the e6 and the batteries "did not explode"–although some of them burned. One journalist called the investigation "a shameless attempt to cover up the truth."

Lawyers of the victims’ families pointed out that both the investigation report and the accused failed to address at least three important issues:

1. The BYD e6, unreasonably, required a manual shut-down of its electrical system–even in a crash. This explains why the driver died on the front passenger’s seat, as the switch to shut down the electrical system, which he must have tried to reach, was located on the front right side.

2. The feet of the victims had been cut off in the accident, and holes were found on their bodies. This seems inconsistent with BYD’s claim, supported by the report, that the e6 did not explode or have any design flaw.

3. After the accident happened, BYD and Pengcheng quickly removed from Shenzhen streets all of the electric taxis that were produced in the same batch as the crashed one. And so far they have not explained if the cars have resumed service or what measures have been taken to make the e6 safer in light of the tragedy.

The court has yet to reach any conclusions.