The Volkswagen Group of America, operating under its Audi brand, has recently identified a critical issue in a range of its electric vehicle models. This issue revolves around the charging system, specifically the high-voltage battery modules, raising concerns about potential overheating and fire safety risks.
The problem affects several Audi models between 2019 and 2024, including the RS e-tron GT, e-tron GT, Q4 e-tron Sportback, Q4 e-tron, Audi A8, e-tron Quattro, e-tron Sportback Quattro, Q5, and A7.
Overheating High-Voltage Battery Modules
The central issue lies in the high-voltage battery modules, which are prone to overheating. This has been especially evident when charging with the industrial 220V/240V plug at a current of 40 amperes. Crucially, Investigations revealed that the charging equipment itself was not at fault. Instead, the issue often stemmed from household power outlets and wiring incapable of handling the required current, leading to overheating of the home infrastructure.
Initial Discovery and Response
The issue first came to light in April 2020, following a fire incident outside the U.S. Audi collaborated with their high-voltage battery supplier, LG Energy Solutions, to investigate. By mid-2023, a noticeable increase in thermal events led to a deeper examination. Despite a service campaign in April 2022 that included a software update for cell module balancing, issues persisted.
Recall and Remedial Actions
In response, Audi initiated a voluntary global safety recall, designated 93U9 by Audi and 23V-867 by the NHTSA. The recall includes installing onboard diagnostic software to monitor battery module performance and replacing affected modules as necessary. Interim notification letters are scheduled for February 2024, with a detailed follow-up expected in the third quarter of the same year.
Charging Cable Replacement
A significant aspect of the recall is the replacement of the power cable used for industrial sockets (220V/240V/NEMA 14-50). The existing cable (part number 7PP971678 ED) will be replaced with a new design (part number 7PP971678GA), featuring temperature sensors. These cables should be available in the second quarter of 2024.
Safety Concerns and User Guidance
Owners of affected models are advised to be cautious, especially when using industrial sockets for charging. The overheating issue can cause not only damage to the charging cable but also pose a risk to household electrical infrastructure. If the problem exists, users may notice the charging cable feeling hot to the touch after use.
This recall underscores the importance of matching electric vehicle charging systems with compatible household wiring. Audi’s proactive steps in addressing this issue highlight their commitment to customer safety and the integrity of their electric vehicle line. Owners of the affected models are encouraged to heed recall notices and ensure their home charging setups are compatible and safe.
The charging issue identified in Audi’s electric vehicles bears notable similarities to the Chevrolet Bolt recall (21V-650). In both cases, the central concern revolves around the battery systems and the associated risk of overheating, which could potentially lead to fire hazards. The Chevrolet Bolt recall, much like Audi’s, involved issues with high-voltage battery packs that were found to be prone to catching fire. Both recalls necessitated substantial corrective actions, including software updates, close monitoring of battery performance, and in some cases, the replacement of battery modules. Furthermore, these incidents highlight a broader challenge in the electric vehicle industry, emphasizing the need for more robust and safe battery technologies and charging infrastructures. Such parallels underline the growing pains of electric vehicle technology and the critical importance of ensuring safety as these vehicles become increasingly prevalent.