Let's stamp out the flames of suspicion right up front. A new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation, while involving a 2013 Nissan Leaf and some smoke, is not about another EV fire. Not directly, anyway.
This time, the subject of the NHTSA's lens is the Bosch Power Xpress 240V charging unit. NHTSA wants to know if an overheating charging cord caused smoke (NHTSA says there was no actual fire) in a Leaf owner's garage last fall. NHTSA says it will investigate, "to evaluate the scope, frequency, and consequence of the alleged defect." Up to 50 of the charging units could be involved, and NHTSA decided to act based on a single customer complaint that was filed in August 2013. The investigation opened April 15, so it will likely be a while before we know any more concrete details. For now, you can read the official details of the investigation and the original complaint - which says, "Nissan has determined by pictures that the car was not to blame for the incident. They are blaming the charging station for the failure. They have denied any warranty coverage. The burden of the bill has been placed with the customer" – below.
"Nissan has determined by pictures that the car was not to blame for the incident" – NHTSA complaint
Nissan's senior manager of corporate communications, Brian Brockman, sent AutoblogGreen a statement that says Nissan will work with NHTSA and Bosch and points out that, "This inquiry is focused on the electric vehicle charger and is directed at the charger supplier, Bosch." Requests for comment from Bosch were not returned, but we will update this post when we hear back.
Bosch spokesperson Cheryl Kilborn told AutoblogGreen that, "Bosch is reviewing the filing and will work cooperatively with NHTSA as we seek to identify the root cause."
Date Investigation Opened: APR 15, 2014
Date Investigation Closed: Open
NHTSA Action Number: PE14011
Component(s): ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
All Products Associated with this Investigation close
Equipment Brand NamePart No. or Model No.Production Dates
BOSCHPOWER XPRESS 240V CHARGER -
Manufacturer: Robert Bosch LLC
The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received one report from a consumer alleging a model year 2013 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle began to emit smoke around the vicinity of the vehicle/charger interface when charging at a private residence using a Bosch Power Xpress 240V charging unit. According to the owner, the vehicle had been charging for approximately 1 hour at 30 amps when signs of overheating were first noticed. The overheating condition can cause damage to the vehicle and charger rendering both inoperable. Charging vehicles are typically left unattended and there is a risk of fire that could affect the vehicle and its surrounding environment. The charger is primarily marketed to residential customers and is used to charge a wide variety of electric vehicles. NHTSA is opening this investigation to evaluate the scope, frequency, and consequence of the alleged defect. The ODI report cited above can be reviewed at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchSafetyIssues under the following identification (ODI) number: 10537862
Date Complaint Filed: 08/29/2013
Component(s): ELECTRICAL SYSTEM , UNKNOWN OR OTHER
Date of Incident: 08/20/2013
NHTSA ID Number: 10537862
Number of Injuries:0
Number of Deaths:0
Manufacturer: Nissan North America, Inc.
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): 1N4AZ0CP2DC...
MY NISSAN LEAF WAS PLUGGED INTO 220V CHARGING STATION AT MY HOME. IT WAS CHARGING FOR OVER AN HOUR. MY SPOUSE WENT TO LEAVE AND WHEN ENTERING THE GARAGE SHE SMELLED A STRONG BURNING SMELL. SMOKE WAS COMING FROM THE CHARGING STATION PLUG WHERE IT PLUGS INTO THE CAR. SHE TURNED OFF THE POWER AT THE BREAKER BOX AND THEN PROCEEDED TO UNPLUG THE CHARGER FROM THE CAR. TWO OF THE TERMINALS ON THE PLUG WERE DAMAGED AND 2 TERMINALS ON THE RECEPTACLE ON THE CAR WERE DAMAGED. THE CONNECTION HAD GOTTEN HOT ENOUGH TO MELT THE PLASTIC AND CREATE SMOKE INDICATING A FIRE. NISSAN HAS DETERMINED BY PICTURES THAT THE CAR WAS NOT TO BLAME FOR THE INCIDENT. THEY ARE BLAMING THE CHARGING STATION FOR THE FAILURE. THEY HAVE DENIED ANY WARRANTY COVERAGE. THE BURDEN OF THE BILL HAS BEEN PLACED WITH THE CUSTOMER. THE CAR IS CURRENTLY ONLY 5 MONTHS OLD AND HAS LESS THAN 10,000 MILES.
Statement from Nissan:
Nissan is aware of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inquiry concerning Bosch Power Xpress 240V chargers. This inquiry is focused on the electric vehicle charger and is directed at the charger supplier, Bosch. Nissan will assist regulators and Bosch with this investigation as needed. Nissan is committed to providing a superior ownership experience to LEAF owners.