Despite how it might seem, electric vehicles don’t catch on fire all that often. However, when they do, it can take a herculean effort from firefighters to calm the flames. Knowing that, it’s not surprising to see automakers jump on the first sign of fire risk with investigations and recalls. Kia is the latest to do so, issuing a recall for a small number of Soul EVs 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, and some vehicles that have had their batteries replaced under warranty. An investigation found that an electrical short circuit between the battery anode and cathode could occur, increasing the fire risk in the battery pack. Kia said the exact cause remains unknown but noted that it believes the cause to be “abnormally excessive precipitate within the battery cells.”
Though the fires can occur while driving, there are a few warning signs that could indicate a problem. The recall documentation states that the batteries may not charge completely, the vehicle may exhibit a loss of range or range fluctuation, and the EV warning light may illuminate.
Fire risk is frightening, but Kia said it’s only aware of three incidents related to the issue, and there have been no injuries as a result. Interestingly, the automaker’s ability to study the issue in the small number of burned vehicles has been hampered by damage caused by the intense fire suppression efforts required to extinguish battery fires.
Dealers will diagnose the issue using a software update that can detect abnormal cell voltage before a short circuit occurs. If the problem is present, the EV warning light will illuminate, the vehicle will limit charging to 80 percent, and it will enter limp home mode. Vehicles that experience those conditions will have their batteries replaced by the dealer for free.