Ford will replace the battery pack in the Kuga plug-in hybrid to fix a problem that caused a number of the compact SUVs to catch fire.
“The root cause has been identified as a battery cell contamination issue in our supplier’s production process,” Ford said in a statement. “We have determined that the best course of action for the safety of our existing customers is to replace the drive battery pack.”
The Kuga plug-in hybrid uses a battery made by Samsung, which the supplier sources from a plant in Hungary.
Ford will contact Kuga owners in November to arrange for the battery pack replacements, which are expected to start in late December and finish in March 2021.
Ford recalled nearly 21,000 Kuga plug-in hybrids in August and asked Kuga owners not to drive the car in electric-only mode and not to charge the battery externally.
Ford reiterated in its statement (see full version, below) on Friday that customers should not charge the vehicle and they use should only drive the Kuga in its default settings.
Because of the problems with the Kuga plug-in hybrid Ford will have to pool its CO2 output with Volvo Cars to avoid a fine from the European Union for missing its 2020 emissions reduction target.
Ford faces a financial hit of $500 million to $600 million in the third and fourth quarters because of the problems with the SUV.
“That includes the impact of the pooling effort that we’re going to have to undertake for passenger vehicles in Europe,” Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said during a conference call on Wednesday.
Ford is not the only automaker that has had problems with electric cars catching fire. Hyundai, General Motors and BMW Group have faced similar issues.
BMW and Hyundai are recalling tens of thousands of cars, and GM is being probed by U.S. safety regulators.
Ford’s problem involving the Kuga forced the automaker to delay the U.S. launch of the mechanically similar Escape plug-in hybrid until next year.
The safety of our customers is a top priority for all of us at Ford Motor Company. Today, Ford is communicating with all our Kuga PHEV customers across Europe that we now have a fix for the issue related to the drive battery pack. This fix will be a replacement of the entire drive battery pack with a new pack as a result of our investigations with our supplier.
We realize that vehicle recalls are inconvenient to customers, but they assure vehicle safety in service. We will commence the drive battery replacement work towards the end of December for customers who already have their vehicles and expect this process to take until late March to complete. We will be communicating with customers directly later in November to arrange a time to implement the replacement.
We have worked in partnership with our supplier to determine both the cause and resolution. 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 the drive battery pack is replaced, customers can continue to safely drive their vehicles as long as they do not to charge the vehicle and they use it in the EV Auto mode and Normal drive mode, the vehicle’s default setting. As a gesture of goodwill, we have provided all affected customers with an extended warranty or service pack and a £500/€500 fuel card to address the inconvenience caused.
We apologize for the concern this issue has caused our customers and thank them for their patience and co-operation. We remain committed to providing safe and high-quality vehicles, addressing potential issues and responding quickly. Should customers have any additional concerns, we ask them to contact their national Ford Customer Contact Center.