Several EV Models Now Under Investigation for Fire Risks

Electric vehicle technology is progressing quite rapidly, but there are still a number of issues automakers and battery suppliers need to address.

Have you ever heard of EVs catching fire for some obscure reasons, whether after a crash or while charging? Accounts of incidents like these are sometimes pretty alarming. The industry along with governments now want real answers—and real solutions—as evidenced by three recent cases.

Ford Escape PHEV

The next-generation Ford Escape—including its hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants—was originally introduced in early spring of 2019 as a 2020 model. And yet, 18 months later, the Escape PHEV still keeps customers waiting. In fact, production of this model won’t start until early 2021. And now we know why…

Photo: Ford

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly had an impact. Also, the people at Ford have their hands full this year with the launches of the 2021 F-150Bronco and Mustang Mach-E. But there’s another reason. You see, a few weeks ago, Ford had to stop sales and recall over 20,000 Kuga PHEV crossovers in Europe (similar to the Escape) in order to look into a potential concern with the high-voltage battery, which in certain cases could result in a fire.

Affected owners will receive a compensation of several hundred dollars, but customers who are eagerly waiting to get their hands on the Escape PHEV—both here and abroad—must be seriously frustrated and perhaps even a little worried. Hopefully Ford will have good news to share soon.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

In the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the Chevrolet Bolt EV after three separate units sustained fire damage. The cause is still unknown, but the agency has said the origin of the fire appears to be concentrated in the compartment that stores the battery pack. There’s a similar burn pattern on or around the rear seats.

Photo: Frédéric Mercier

At least one of these Bolt EVs was plugged into a 240V power source before catching fire. Another reportedly left the house with a fully charged battery and drove for about 20 kilometres, after which the owner turned it off and a fire broke out 20 minutes later. No one was injured.

If these are not isolated incidents, the NHTSA claims nearly 78,000 examples of the Bolt EV built between the 2017 and 2020 model years could be affected.

Hyundai Kona Electric

Finally, some 51,000 Hyundai Kona Electric crossovers will be recalled in North America, Europe, China and other markets over battery cell fire risks. The recalls come after the automaker announced last week a voluntary recall plan for 25,000 Kona EVs back home in South Korea, bringing the total of affected units to more than 76,000.

How many of those are in Canada? The answer is 4,375. Hyundai says it will notify owners by mail shortly.

Photo: Hyundai

According to LG Chem, which supplies batteries for the Kona Electric, faulty battery cells were not the cause of the fires because a re-enactment experiment conducted jointly with Hyundai did not lead to a fire. The exact cause has yet to be determined.

Recalled vehicles will undergo software updates for all affected models and battery replacements of select models after inspections.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

ElectricMystery Surrounds Porsche Taycan Caught in a Fire
You might have heard stories of Tesla cars that caught fire, most of them the result of debris damaging the electric system components after a crash. Well, this past weekend, one of the approximately 130 Porsche Taycan sedans sold in the U.S. last year suffered a similar fate down in …
Hybrid/Plug-in HybridFord Escape PHEV to Enter Production in 2021 Instead of 2020
The next-generation Ford Escape —including its hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants—was originally introduced in early spring of 2019 as a 2020 model. And yet, 18 months later, the Escape PHEV still keeps customers waiting. In fact, production of this model won’t start until January 2021. Ford Authority reported the news …
First Drives2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Once Again the Range Champ
A lot of things have changed since the Chevrolet Bolt first hit the market in 2017. Once alone in its class, the brand’s all-electric hatchback has seen a number of highly competitive models also fight for consumer dollars. The list includes the Hyundai Kona Electric , Nissan LEAF PLUS , …
ElectricBattery Providing 800 Km of Range in 20 Minutes Might Come Soon
Development of long-range electric vehicles is accelerating quite a bit. Many automakers along with tech giants and battery suppliers are making big promises and announcements these days. Following Samsung’s breakthrough earlier in the year, another Korean company, SK Innovation, has exciting news to share. At a recent battery-tech trade conference …
New ModelsHyundai Shows Off New-look 2022 Kona Electric
A few weeks ago, we saw images and details about the redesigned 2022 Hyundai Kona . Now, it’s the new-look Kona Electric’s turn to show its face. In addition to fresh styling, Hyundai is adding more technology, safety and practicality to the battery-powered variant of the hugely popular sub-compact SUV …
RecallsThousands of Chevrolet Bolt EVs Recalled Due to Fire Risk
In mid-October, we reported about several electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles being investigated because the high-voltage battery can overheat and lead to a fire. One of them was the Chevrolet Bolt EV . Now, we’ve learned that General Motors has no choice but to recall thousands of them. First, here’s …
ElectricHyundai to Replace All Kona EV Batteries Globally
Back in October, we told you that Hyundai planned to recall more than 76,000 Kona Electric SUVs around the world, including 4,375 in Canada, over battery cell fire risks. Fifteen cases have been reported so far, including two in Canada. According to Reuters , the Korean automaker has finally agreed …
ElectricThings Continue to Get Worse for Hyundai Kona Electric
The Hyundai Kona Electric was a promising little EV that was initially met with strong demand, but as it turns out the end may be soon. Why? You can blame issues with the high-voltage battery once again. Fifteen cases of fire have been reported so far, including two in Canada.
ElectricPermanent Fix Found for Chevrolet Bolt EVs With Fire Risks
General Motors announced it has found a permanent fix for thousands of 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV cars equipped with potentially faulty high-voltage batteries. This comes after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation last fall following at least three separate cases where a Bolt EV sustained …