No fires have yet been reported, and a dealer caught the problem before it became a reality.
Volkswagen Group of America s recalling 1,042 rear-wheel-drive Volkswagen ID.4 electric crossovers in the USA (and 42 in Canada) for a faulty 12-volt battery charging cable that could lead to a vehicle fire.
According to documentation filed by VW with the NHTSA, it is estimated that only 3% of vehicles recalled will be affected by the problem. The documentation explains that a faulty wiring harness for the 12-volt battery connecting cable has a bend that isn't supposed to be present. As a result, the cable may contact the steering column shaft, resulting in the cable insulation wearing through.
Should this happen, a short may occur, and as a result, fire is the worst-case scenario. This follows a recall just last month in which 140,000 Chevrolet Bolts were recalled for fire risk due to their seatbelt assemblies.
As the cable is a low-voltage item, the risk of shock to a driver is nil. However, this doesn't lessen the importance of the recall. The nature of the fault means that problems would take a long time to manifest, and thus far, there have been no related incidents to the recall.
So how did Volkswagen detect the problem if there have been no incidents? On December 8, 2022, a dealer noticed a 'production deviation' during a pre-delivery inspection and reported it to the mothership. Less than a week later, on December 14, an internal investigation was conducted involving the supplier and the VW Chattanooga assembly plant where the ID.4 is built to find out what went wrong.
VW discovered that some cables from the supplier were not to specification, and a recall was decided upon on December 21 - just 13 days after the defect had initially been detected.
Cars affected are RWD variants of the ID.4 produced at Chattanooga between Oct 18 and December 15, 2022. Dealers will inspect and repair or replace the 12V cable at no cost to owners, ensuring the cable has the correct clearance between it and the steering column shaft.
Owners will be notified on February 27, 2023.
This recall is a prime example of how even dealer employees can significantly impact the safety of those they sell cars to. With VW introducing a cheaper variant of the ID.4 for 2023, the German automaker is looking to make electric mainstream and had this issue not been picked up, the consequences in a few years may have been disastrous. The ID.4 has already been selling rapidly, and a more affordable option will no doubt fuel the adoption rate.