The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have opened an investigation into certain 2017-2020 Chevrolet Bolt electric cars after several complaints of vehicle fires. The NHTSA says it was contacted by two owners who reported that their Bolt EVs caught fire while parked and unattended. In one case the vehicle was plugged into a charger in the owner’s driveway when it caught fire. The second vehicle was parked but not plugged in approximately 20 minutes after being driven, before it caught fire. Additional research by the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) found a third vehicle, a 2017 Bolt EV with a similar burn patterns.
In all three cases, fire damage appeared to come from the battery compartment with fire passing into the passenger compartment from under the rear seat. The root cause of the fires is unknown and the ODI is opening a “preliminary evaluation” into the matter. If the investigation results in a vehicle recall, approximately 78,000 Chevy Bolt EVs would be affected.
Ford will be asking owners of certain 2013-2015 Ford C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi, and 2012-2015 Ford Focus Electric vehicles, to return to their dealers for a problem affecting the 120V convenience charge chord. (Cords affected include part numbers FM58-10B706-AA, FM58-10B706-AB, FM58-10B706-AC, FM58-10B706-AD, FM58-10B706-AE and FM58-10B706-AF.)
According to the defect report, the cord originally provided with these vehicles are missing a thermistor used to identify over temperature conditions. If the defective cord is used in combination with an AC outlet that is not on a dedicated circuit, is damaged, worn or corroded, it could experience an increased contact resistance and could overheat. Early indicators that a problem exists include: incomplete or slow charge cycles, inability to charge, burning odors or visible melting damage.
Dealers will replace the current cord with a new 120V convenience cord with a thermistor. Ford’s number for this recall is 18S24 and the NHTSA campaign number is 18V-592.
A small number of 2016 Toyota Prius owners will be contacted by the manufacturer regarding a problem affecting the hybrid propulsion system. Some vehicles were manufactured with an inverter assembly which contains a capacitor that may not have been properly attached to the inverter housing. Over time the terminal of the capacitor may become damaged by normal vehicle vibrations which could eventually result in a hybrid system shut down.
All known owners of the subject vehicles that have not received the repair will be notified directly via telephone to return to their dealerships to have the inverter replaced. Owners wanting more information about the defect may contact Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331. Toyota’s number for this recall is H0U and the NHTSA campaign number is 17V-658.
Hyundai will be contacting a small number of 2017 Hyundai Ioniq owners regarding a defect affecting the Electronic Power Control Unit (EPCU) in their car. According to the defect report, the housing for the EPCU may contain small voids that could allow coolant to enter and contact the control unit’s circuit board. If this happens, the board could short and stall the vehicle.
Those receiving notices will be asked to return to their dealership to have the EPCU inspected and replaced as necessary. For more information about the problem, owners may contact Hyundai Customer Service at 1-800-633-5151. Hyundai’s number for this recall is 166 and the NHTSA campaign number is 17V-532.
Tesla has identified a problem affecting certain Universal Mobile Connector (UMC) adapters and will notify customers to get a replacement. The affected units may have an insufficiently welded electrical connection that could exhibit increased electrical resistance. The vehicle may detect a fault and interrupt charging or the adapter could become hot to the touch.
The charging adapter affected include:
Tesla will notify owners and will provide them with a replacement adapter. Owners wanting more information about the problem are asked to contact Tesla customer service at 1-877-798-3752. The NHTSA campaign number for this recall is 16E-091.
The owners of certain 2015-2016 Volkswagen e-Golf electric vehicles will be contacted by the manufacturer about a problem that could lead to sudden unexpected shutdown. Under certain conditions, oversensitive diagnostics in the battery management system may classify a brief internal electrical current surge as a critical battery condition. This could cause an emergency shutdown which will deactivates the vehicle’s electrical drive motor. Continue reading
Mercedes Benz will be contacting a small number of S550 Hybrid owners about a problem affecting certain S-Class, C-Class, and M-Class vehicles. According to reports, the circuit board in the high voltage outboard charger may have been manufactured with circuit electrical connections that are too thin. The connection could break and leave the external charging function unavailable and/or the high voltage outboard charger may incorrectly detect the charging cable while the car is being driven. Continue reading
According to a study done by the National Research Council (NRC), if electric and plug in hybrid vehicles are to be adopted by consumers, the Federal government must continue to provide incentives for buyers. Currently, vehicle cost, battery technology, and lack of consumer knowledge are some areas that the federal government need to address. Developing less expensive, better performing batteries to reduce cost, and a market strategy, is needed to create awareness and overcome customer uncertainty. Continue reading