Christopher Liang, 21, had not been heard from since 28 February when he rented the electric vehicle to drive from San Francisco to Irvine, California.
Police say that the University of San Francisco student was found in the car that “ran off the road for an unknown reason” and fell off a cliff before ending up in a dry riverbed.
The California Highway Patrol Los Banos division confirmed that they were investigating a fatal collision near I-5 in Fresno County but did not identify the victim.
The Fresno County Sheriff Coroner’s Office confirmed Liang’s identity to NBC Bay Area.
CHP’s collision report states that because of a “lack of witnesses to the actual crash” the accident could have taken any time between 28 February and the discovery of the vehicle five days later.
Before the discovery, Liang’s brother, Jerry Liang, had taken to social media in an effort to find the missing student.
In an Instagram post he described his brother as “impulsive” and said he was “concerned for his life”.
“The erratic nature of this trip combined with his mental health issues has made our family extremely concerned for his safety,” he wrote.
Mr Liang confirmed his brother’s death in social media posts this week.