Engine Fires: Yet Another Reason Why Smart Cars Failed In America

City Cars

Their engines caught on fire? Yep, 27 times.

Not long ago we reported that Smart will no longer sell gas-engined vehicles in the US. Instead, it’ll focus entirely on EVs, of which we’ll see a new concept debut next week at Frankfurt. But today we learned of an Associated Press report about Smart Fortwo engine fires. Apparently they happened and one person was injured due to inhaling smoke from an engine fire. Turns out there’s been a nine-month long investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding an unusually high number of engine fires. 27 to be exact.

Specifically, the cars affected are from the 2008 and 2009 model years. Smart, whose parent company is Daimler, fully cooperated in the investigation. When conducting its own investigative work, however, it couldn’t find a cause for the fires. But the NHTSA discovered that 19 of the fires happened only since January 2015. What does that mean? As those vehicles age, the likelihood of an engine fire increases. So what’s next? Before any recall can take place, the NHTSA will need to conduct an engineering analysis, which we assume is happening now. Based on those results, the recall decision will be made. For its part, NHTSA investigators are focusing on claim rates among Smart Fortwo owners.

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This particular car showed a higher claim rate than similar vehicles, with the aforementioned sharp increase in claims in 2015. In any case, the NHTSA will need to move fast on this one because, as the data indicates, the rate of these engine fires is only increasing.

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