Update: Added the latest response from Li Auto.

The failure in the Li L9 test car is a one-off issue for non-production models, and Li Auto will address the issue in the final production vehicle, the company said.

Li Auto (NASDAQ: LI, HKG: 2015) began allowing users to test drive its new SUV, the Li L9, just this past weekend, but a hardware issue with a test vehicle has put the company in an awkward position.

A photo circulating on Chinese social media shows the left front wheel of a Li L9 vehicle sinking into the bodywork and preventing it from driving properly, with a suspected air suspension failure, state-owned China National Radio reported on Sunday.

Li Auto in spotlight for Li L9 test car suspension breakage-CnEVPost

The failure is a one-off issue for non-production models, and Li Auto has identified the cause and will address the issue on the final production vehicle, the report said, citing the company's customer service staff.

The China National Radio report did not provide more details about the issue, but another state-run media outlet, The Paper, provided more details in a report today.

The accident occurred in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing when the vehicle passed over a 20-centimeter-deep pothole at 90 kilometers per hour, causing a cushion ring inside the air springs to break, The Paper said, citing staff at a Li Auto store.

Because of supply issues, some Li L9 test cars used the cushion ring in the pilot stage, the staff member said, adding that the pilot version of the part, while meeting safety standards, could experience failure when encountering large impacts.

The Li L9 production version's cushion ring is 2.5 times stronger than the trial version and will not have a problem in the face of larger impacts, according to the staff member.

Some industry sources, however, have questioned the response.

Hu Zhengnan, former director of the Geely Research Institute, said the description of a vehicle passing a pit with a depth of 20 cm at 90 km/h is not quite in line with reality, because the ground clearance of a typical vehicle is less than 20 cm, according to The Paper.

Also, a normal person would not keep driving at high speed even when seeing a pit of about 20 centimeters, he said.

After the incident sparked widespread discussion, Li Auto responded on Weibo at noon Monday that the company will extend the warranty on the Li L9's air springs to allay user concerns.

Here is Li Auto's response, as translated by CnEVPost:

Li L9 air spring warranty program upgraded

Recently, a test car of Li L9 saw the right front air spring leaking and damaged after impacting a large pothole in the road at high speed, bringing users' doubts about the quality and durability of the air spring.

Out of confidence in the quality of the product and to allay users' concerns about the air springs, we have decided to upgrade the warranty program for the air springs of the Li L9 (including the air spring body, air pump and air reservoir) to the same 8 years or 160,000 km as the three core electrical systems, and the used car trade does not affect the validity of the warranty.

Thank you for your love and support for the Li L9!

Li Auto in spotlight for Li L9 test car suspension breakage-CnEVPost

Previously, Li Auto offered a 5-year or 100,000 km warranty on the vehicle and an 8-year or 160,000 km warranty on the three core electrical systems.

Li Auto officially launched the Li L9, the company's second model after the Li ONE SUV, on June 21, following its predecessor's extended-range technology.

Li Auto in spotlight for Li L9 test car suspension breakage-CnEVPost

(Image credit: Li Auto)

The Li L9 is priced at the same flat rate as the Li ONE at RMB 459,800 ($68,650), up RMB 110,000 from the Li ONE's RMB 349,800.

The company previously said it would allow customers to test drive the Li L9 and lock in orders on July 16, with deliveries starting by the end of August.

On June 4, Li Auto founder, chairman and CEO Li Xiang said on Weibo that the model would be officially delivered to customers in August and deliveries could exceed 10,000 in September.

On June 24, Li Auto said the Li L9 had already received more than 30,000 orders within 72 hours of the vehicle being available for reservation.

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