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Electric car brand NIO says two killed in vehicle fall

BEIJING (AP) – Two people involved in testing for the electric car brand NIO died when one of its vehicles fell three storeys from a Shanghai parking structure, the company said on Friday.

The crash on Thursday was under investigation but appeared to be an accident and “not caused by the vehicle”, the company said in a statement. It said the employees who died were “digital cabin testers”, one from NIO and the other from a partner.

The vehicle fell from the third floor of a parking structure adjacent to the company’s Shanghai Innovation Port building, the company said.

Photos in Chinese media showed the vehicle lying on its side with its roof caved in, surrounded by broken glass and emergency workers.

NIO Inc, founded in 2014, is a Chinese-Western hybrid with bases in Shanghai, London and Silicon Valley and the most prominent premium-priced Chinese brand in a crowded electric vehicle industry with dozens of competitors. Its early investors included Chinese tech giants Tencent, Baidu and Lenovo.

The company has a service that allows owners to swap drained batteries instead of recharging them. It has set up 143 battery-swap stations in cities including Beijing and Shanghai.

The NIO logo at the Shanghai Auto Show. PHOTO: AP