Volvo, Mack EVs Recalled Over Fire Concerns

Batteries Can Short-Circuit, Need to Be Replaced
A Volvo VNR
A Volvo VNR electric truck at a Southern California charging station. (Volvo Trucks)

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Volvo AB is recalling nearly all battery-powered electric trucks in the U.S. that were made over the past four years because of an issue that may potentially cause a battery fire.

The checks affect about 172 vehicles as part of the Volvo brand and nine Mack Trucks, built between 2019 and 2023. The Swedish truck maker will replace the batteries, following a fire in a battery that had been shipped to its Virginia assembly plant, according a report by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration dated from last month.

The fire was contained inside the battery and hadn’t spread, the report said.

All of the trucks are equipped with battery packs from supplier Akasol AG with the issue isolated to a specific plant of the supplier in the U.S. Technical issues with the power distribution in the batteries may lead to debris inside the pack, which can cause a short circuit, increasing the risk of a fire.

“The third-generation version of the batteries Akasol have delivered may catch fire,” said Claes Eliasson, a Volvo spokesperson.

The risk of fires is garnering more attention as battery packs increasingly power transportation. While combustion-engine vehicles are just as prone to catching fire compared to electric vehicles, battery fires are harder to put out because of self-oxidizing lithium salts that can lead them to keep reigniting. Extinguishing a battery fire can take thousands of gallons of water, much more than what it takes to stop a gasoline car fire.

Nikola Corp. in June blamed foul play for a fire that affected several of its big rigs at its Phoenix headquarters, while the cause of a recent blaze on a containership carrying thousands of cars including EVs hasn’t been determined yet.

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