Not What You Want To See Under Your New EV - Fiat 500e Axle Issue Arises (via G+ Fiat 500e group)
As reported by both the Fiat 500e forum community and a Google+ group, It appears that Fiat has apparently issued a "stop sell" order on the new Fiat 500e as it searches for 18-odd defective 500e electric cars in need or repairs.
UPDATE: Chrysler has issued a statement -- noted at bottom of article
And it is pretty serious too, as apparently the axle in the car can give way under pressure. Here is what one owner had to say about the incident:
The Virtually Sold Out 500e Hits A Road Bump In Getting To Customers
Today I was driving the car down a surface street (non-freeway). I took a normal right hand turn at normal speeds when all of a sudden I hear a very loud grinding noise in front and below where my feet are. The grinding noise continued and I immediately turned into the nearest driveway, which happened to be an abandoned restaurant parking lot, and turned off the car. Lucky for me it was abandoned because my car would be stuck there for a while...
At this point I was blocking the driveway so I wanted to put the car into neutral so I could push it out of the way. I put in the key and it would not let me put it into neutral (which is normal since I didn't turn the key, the electronic transmission wasn't on). when I turned the key, though, the car made that loud grinding noise again so I immediately turned it off again and just turned on my hazard lights. Again, I am blocking this driveway but this was an abandoned restaurant parking lot so no biggie. (I forgot to mention, as soon as the grinding sound started, the display read "propulsion system error!")
So now at this point I called AAA and was waiting for the tow. I finally had a chance to calm down a bit and tried to survey the damage. The car is pretty low to the ground so I couldn't get a good vantage point to see the area where I heard the noise. However looking around the ground, I noticed a few bolts and ball bearings laying around :shock: Also I noticed what seemed to be some kind of housing...
AAA guy comes, I tell him what happened. As soon as I mentioned ball bearings, he said it was probably my axle. Sure enough, when lifts my car, he points out to me that the axle came apart completely....I'm anxious to see how long it will take to repair... at this point the tow guy told me to demand that they re-install both axles in the front because something like this could have been very serious. Also upon inspecting the bolts, he noticed that loctite was only applied to a small portion of the bolt whereas it should have been applied everywhere that the threads would be engaged. He called this a "5PM" job, and the dealership called it a "friday afternoon" job.. essentially chalking it up to workmanship error (people on the shop floor being lazy).
Another commentator went to a dealership in Berkeley, California earlier in the week and confirms the situation:
"I'm at McKevitt now, and the service team was aware of this when I brought it up. They had a warning from manufacturing before receiving any 500e's about this possible issue on 18 cars of unknown destinations. The problem occurred in the handoff between the ICE and EV assembly lines. McKevitt has been inspecting their 500e's since they started getting them for the issue."
On owner says that he has since been contact by Chrysler Corporate and has been told the problem will be taken car of, and offered him a rental car in the meantime.
Checking out the thread on the issue, at least two other owners have found their way to the community to comment about a similar being experienced.
"...my car was on day 19, at 600 miles. I'm surprised some of the dealerships are not taking a more proactive role in calling the 500es back for a safety check, or just the lack of awareness around the issue. I have not received my diagnosis on what is going on with my car yet, but Khoa's description matched my experience exactly. Grinding noise, "propulsion system error!" flashing on the dash, on restart to move car to a more safe location grinding noise again coming from under the car. I think bringing it in for a check would be a good idea, at least for peace of mind..." - 500e owner Christine Pun
Update - Monday August 12th:
Another Look At The Issue (via G+ Fiat 500e Owner's Group)
"More interesting news... I called in and said "hi I'm the one with the 500e that broke down". He said "which one?" I thought he was joking but he was not... they have 5 500e's with the same issue. Apparently the bolts are coming out and they're not sure why. Engineers from Fiat are on the way to the dealerships to figure it out (their words).
If you are reading this, I would recommend you to stop driving your 500e and take it to the dealership, it is not safe to be driving it around when the bolts may come out... of course I don't know if each dealership will give everyone a rental for a "just in case" but hopefully Corporate will send out a notice soon enough...">
Today, Chrysler has issued a statement on the issue and is contact/effecting repairs on aproximately 270 units of the 500e:
<August 14, 2013 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Chrysler Group has begun contacting approximately 270 owners of model-year 2013 Fiat 500e battery-electric vehicles. A recall is being conducted to replace bolts that secure the vehicles’ half shafts.
The issue is unrelated to the 500e’s electric powertrain. Half shafts transfer torque from a vehicle’s gearbox to its wheels.
An investigation was launched after Chrysler Group learned a customer’s vehicle exhibited power loss. Engineers discovered two assembly steps had not been properly completed; creating a condition that could lead to half shaft separation. Chrysler Group is unaware of any related accidents or injuries.
Approximately 270 retail customers are affected. They are being contacted and will receive free rental vehicles while their vehicles are being repaired.
Repairs will be performed at no charge to customers.
Vehicles on dealer lots also are affected. Chrysler Group will advise the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when the precise recall population is determined.