If there’s one thing electric vehicle owners do not want to hear, it’s that their cars are being recalled for battery fire risk.
While EV battery fires are not as common as people think, when they do happen the consequences are dramatic. Compared to ICE vehicle fires, EV fires take a lot more effort from firefighters and resources to put out.
Naturally, EV manufacturers are doing the best they can to minimize this risk. Should such a risk be identified, carmakers tend move as swiftly as possible with investigations and recalls. Kia is doing just that with a small number of first-generation Soul EVs in the United States, recalling them for fire risk related to an electrical short circuit in the battery pack.
The recall involves 2,689 Kia Soul EVs from model years 2015-2019 equipped with the E400 high-voltage battery pack, including some vehicles that have had their original batteries replaced under warranty with E400 packs.
More specifically, the recall population consists of all 2018-2019 model year Soul EV vehicles manufactured from July 3, 2017 through September 28, 2018 equipped with an E400 battery and certain 2015-2017 model year Soul EVs manufactured from July 15, 2014 through June 30, 2017 that had their high voltage battery replaced under warranty with an E400 battery.
The automaker’s investigation found that an electrical short circuit between the anode and cathode of the battery cells can occur within the battery pack assembly case located underneath the vehicle.
“If an electrical short circuit occurs, a fire may result while driving, thereby increasing the risk of injury. The cause of the short circuit condition remains unknown, but it is believed to be caused by abnormally excessive precipitate within the battery cells.”
Kia noted in the NHTSA recall report that warning signs of this issue could include incomplete high voltage battery charging, loss or fluctuating vehicle range, and illumination of the EV warning light.
The automaker said it’s only aware of three incidents related to the issue, fortunately with no injuries as a result. Kia dealers will diagnose the issue using a software update that can detect abnormal cell voltage before a short circuit occurs.
Following installation of the new software, if the abnormal battery cell voltage is detected, the EV warning light will illuminate, charging will be limited to 80 percent, and the vehicle will enter limp home mode. If this occurs, dealers will replace the battery free of charge.