(Update: Added the translated full text of the statement and minor changes to the title.)
As NIO enters the spotlight for a fatal ES8 crash, the company's owners have come to its defense.
"We are well aware that NIO's NOP is currently an assisted driving system and not an autonomous or driverless system," a joint statement that has been signed by 500 owners said, adding, "NIO's presentation and promotion of NOP have not been confusing or misleading to us."
Lin Wenqin, 31, the founder of Chinese restaurant brand Meiyihao, died in a traffic accident last week while driving an NIO ES8.
His company said in an obituary that the ES8 had the "self-driving function NOP" turned on, raising questions about the feature.
NIO salespeople claimed the car could drive itself, but only stated in the owner's manual that NOP was only an automatic driving aid, which was misleading and fraudulent, Lin Lihong, a lawyer appointed by Lin's family, told 163.com said Wednesday.
In the joint statement, the NIO owners said the NOP's official user guide clearly defines it as an assisted driving system and requires the driver to stay focused on the road and be ready to take over the vehicle at any time.
When the NOP feature is turned on, NIO has a clear reminder of the nature of its assisted driving system and the driver's duty of care, the statement said.
NIO's founders repeatedly emphasized the nature of NOP's assisted driving in communications with users and implored them to remain attentive, the statement said.
NIO's vehicles require users to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the vehicle's direction of travel while using NOP through technical measures such as steering wheel torque sensors and fatigue monitoring cameras.
"We are aware that there is no official commercial self-driving or driverless system in the world," the statement said.
According to glxsl2017, a WeChat account that follows China's electric vehicle industry, the statement's originator, NIO ES8 Founding Edition owner Lin Wei, said it was created based on a Tencent document and reached its limit of 500 people within two hours.
Lin said they are working on ways to facilitate more people to join.
He also mentioned that he did not contact NIO when making the statement, hoping that their "voice of reason" would be heard.
"This is a joint statement issued by NIO owners and is not associated with the company. We don't know the exact number of owners," caijing.com.cn quoted an NIO source as saying.
Here is the full text of the statement, translated by CnEVPost:
Joint Statement from NIO Owners on NP/NOP System Awareness
We, NIO owners, are aware of the controversial nature of NP (NIO Pilot)/NOP (Navigate on Pilot) of NIO vehicles and the misconceptions on the internet.
As users of NP/NOP services, we have the most direct knowledge and experience on this issue, and we have the most right to speak.
Based on the following facts:
1. NP/NOP's official user guides clearly define them as assisted driving systems, and require drivers to keep their attention on the road and be ready to take over the vehicle at any time;
2. When the NP/NOP function is installed and turned on, there is a clear reminder of its nature as a driver assistance system and the driver's duty of care;
3. The founders of NIO has repeatedly emphasized the nature of NP/NOP as a driving aid and urged users to pay attention to it during the user briefings;
4. NIO's vehicles require users to keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the direction of the vehicle when using NP/NOP through technical measures such as steering wheel torque sensor and fatigue monitoring camera, otherwise, NP/NOP will quit;
5. We have passed the Chinese motorist test and are aware of the basic requirements of Chinese law for safe driving.
We hereby confirm that:
1. We are aware that there is no official commercial self-driving or driverless system in the world;
2. We are aware that NIO's NP/NOP is an assisted driving system, not an autonomous driving system or driverless system, and that NIO's introduction and promotion of NP/NOP does not confuse or mislead us;
3. We are clearly aware of the basic requirements for safe driving by motorists under the current Chinese traffic safety law.
We call on the media and self-publishers to understand and verify the basic facts and concepts before reporting and commenting, and to win public respect with a rigorous, rational, and solid style.
We hereby issue the statement.