Ford will begin issuing recall notices to owners of the new Kuga PHEV, having approved a fix for a potentially dangerous battery fault that came to light in August.
The company earlier halted sales of the hybrid SUV due to concerns about overheating battery packs, advising owners to leave their vehicles in EV Auto mode and avoid plugging them in. At the time, Ford said "information from the field indicates that four vehicle fires are likely to have been caused by the overheating of the high-voltage batteries" and halted the sale of all Kuga PHEV models built before 26 June 2020.
Now, the company has agreed on a fix for the problem and will carry out the necessary repair to all affected vehicles between late December 2020 and March 2021. The process will involve the replacement of the traction battery pack and will be rolled out to cars in the order in which they were sold, with older models the first to be recalled, and as yet undelivered, pre-26 June models remaining in Ford's hands until the fix is carried out.
An official statement said: "The root cause has been identified as a battery cell contamination issue in our supplier’s production process and we have determined that the best course of action for the safety of our existing customers is to replace the drive battery pack."
Until affected customers have had the fix carried out, they are advised to leave their car in EV Auto mode and continue to not plug it in. Ford has provided extended warranties or £500/€500 fuel vouchers in compensation. It is believed up to 27,000 cars globally are affected, but it remains unclear why the problem only affects cars built in that date range.
Fires in combustion-engined vehicles are nothing new, but they're rarer in electrified vehicles, due to their relatively small numbers. EV fires can be volatile, however, with first responders and firefighters now provided specific EV training to ensure the high-voltage power system is switched off as a priority.
No injuries are reported to have occurred in the four fires that alerted Ford to the problem.