Auto Recall Accelerator EV Battery Recall, What to Expect in Highway Safety, and EV Infrastructure Needs

Auto Recall Accelerator EV Battery Recall, What to Expect in Highway Safety, and EV Infrastructure Needs

Stout's Automotive Recall Accelerator brings together unique and important news, analysis, and insights related to automotive recall and vehicle safety for stakeholders across the industry.

March 24, 2021

Recent Developments

A vehicle manufacturer is recalling nearly 82,000 electric vehicles worldwide (4,700 in the U.S.) after fires were reported in vehicles that were parked and in operation. The fires were caused by electrical short circuits in fully charged lithium-ion batteries. No incidents have been reported in the U.S. to date.

  • “An electrical short internally within battery cell(s) increases the risk of a vehicle fire while parked, charging and/or driving.”
  • A final remedy is not yet available until April, but vehicle owners have been notified of an interim remedy.
    • “[Vehicle manufacturer] plans to notify owners to bring their vehicles to the nearest dealership to have the battery’s state of charge limit lowered to mitigate risk. Owners will also be provided with instructions to manually lower the battery’s state of charge limit via the infotainment system. If customers are unable to successfully make these changes, or do not feel comfortable making these changes, they will be advised to not park their car inside, in their garage or carport until after they have visited their dealer.”
  • The Part 573 submission for this recall can be accessed here: Part 573 Safety Recall Report
  • The detailed chronology for this recall can be accessed here: RECALL 200 ATTACHMENT A

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation after receiving 11 complaints about fires in vehicles with 12-volt batteries involving 1.9 million vehicles. These incidents were reported to have occurred in vehicles regardless of whether the ignition was in the on or off position. 

    • “The 12V battery B+ terminal shorts to the battery hold down frame which may result in the sudden loss of electrical power, vehicle stalling, and/or a fire originating in the engine compartment.”
    • The Office of Defect Investigation filing can be accessed here: DOT NHTSA ODI Document

In Stout’s February edition of the Accelerator, we reported that Tesla announced its plans to include a new rectangular steering wheel design in its Model S vehicles, known as the yoke steering wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated the new steering wheel design due to safety concerns and its impact on operability and released the following:

  • "NHTSA is aware of the recently launched Tesla steering yoke in certain Model S vehicles. We requested and received information from Tesla about the steering yoke and we remain actively engaged with the company during our review. NHTSA routinely engages with auto manufacturers and suppliers to better understand the new technologies and features they develop and introduce to the U.S. fleet."
  • For more information: Tesla's Yoke Steering Wheel Could Be Declared Illegal


The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) posted its March issue of “Directions in Highway Safety.” Highlights include:

  • “GHSA also anticipates Secretary Buttigieg will propose a more progressive approach to highway safety. During his presidential campaign, Secretary Buttigieg’s platform called for a national vision zero plan and more federal pressure to push states to improve highway safety.”
  • Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) between January and September 2020, “…an estimated 28,190 people died in traffic crashes, a 4.6% increase from the same period in 2019, despite a national 14.5% decrease in vehicle miles travelled (VMT). If the uptick continues, the number of roadway deaths in 2020 will likely negate gains made in 2019, when fatalities fell by 2%.”
  • “GHSA, in partnership with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF), has selected Maryland and Virginia to each receive $100,000 to develop, implement and evaluate speed management pilot programs…The goal is to develop a template for effective speed reduction strategies that can be duplicated in other states and communities. The initiative is critical, as more than 9,000 people die each year in speeding-related crashes.”
  • “Lyft and GHSA partnered for a third year to award State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) a combination of cash and ride credits to address impaired driving during the most recent holiday season and on Super Bowl Sunday.”
  • “A new GHSA/Ford Motor Company Fund report is helping to call attention to the dangers speeding poses for teens, our most at-risk drivers. One of the key findings of “Teens and Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle” is that between 2015 and 2019 teen drivers (16-19 years of age) accounted for a greater proportion of speeding-related fatalities than all other age groups – 43% versus 30%. During this five-year-period, nearly 5,000 teen drivers and passengers died in speeding-related crashes.”
  • For more information: Directions in Highway Safety: March 2021 Issue

A recent post from Foley & Lardner LLP highlights recent commitments made by General Motors, Ford and Tesla regarding the development of electric vehicles and the changes to infrastructure that will be needed to maintain more electric vehicles on the roads.

  • “General Motors reaffirmed their commitment to EVs, announcing 30 all electric models by 2025 with a goal of phasing out ICE and diesel products by 2035. GM also announced a recent commitment to the EV space by pledging to spend $27B over the next five years solely on EVs and Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) projects.”
  • “Ford announced a commitment to invest over $29B in EVs and AVs through 2025, with almost $22B of that commitment earmarked for EVs alone…Ford has also signaled the continued push towards EVs with a mid-2022 model F-150 EV and EV models for their Lincoln nameplate.” 
  • “Tesla announced recent plans to release a new EV product based on their Model 3 platform, with a targeted starting price of $25,000…The introduction of a more entry-level Tesla opens the proverbial door to an entire market segment of consumers who otherwise are unable or unwilling to pay the premiums afforded by Tesla’s current nameplates.”
  • “As OEMs push forward with new EV models, cities, developers, and consumers will need to start taking into account the infrastructure needs necessary for keeping these cars on the road. Although those with garages might be able to easily plug-in for the night, consumer who park in shared lots, parking structures, or on their local street will find a plug in car to be a disadvantage when their juice is running low…many states and cities will also need to be modernized just to handle the increased power demands of millions of cars now requiring charging.”
  • For more information: The Shift to Electric Vehicles is Only Just Starting to Accelerate

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