Nikola, the Phoenix-based company that manufactures battery-powered and hydrogen-powered Class 8 rigs, is recalling 209 Tre BEV trucks and has issued a temporary hold on new sales.
The actions come after Exponent, a third-party investigator, published the preliminary findings of its investigation on the truck fire that happened in June at Nikola’s headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. Back then, it was reported that multiple Tre BEV trucks caught fire while parked outside, but the source of the fire was still unknown, with the vehicle manufacturer saying it was suspecting foul play after a vehicle was observed around the premises close to the time of the fire.
However, that hypothesis is now dead, as the initial investigation findings show a coolant leak inside a single battery pack was the probable cause of the truck fire. Nikola says that the findings were further corroborated by a minor thermal incident that impacted one pack on an engineering validation truck parked at the company’s plant in Coolidge, Arizona on August 10.
The Arizona company is currently in the process of filing the voluntary recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with sales temporarily suspended until a resolution is in place.
The zero-emissions truck startup says in a statement that a single supplier component within the battery pack was identified as the likely source of the coolant leak and that efforts are underway to provide a field remedy in the coming weeks.
Gallery: Nikola Tre BEV
“At Nikola we take safety very seriously,” said Steve Girsky, Nikola’s CEO. “We stated from the beginning that as soon as our investigations were concluded we would provide an update, and we will continue our transparency as we learn more.”
With this being said, the affected vehicles can still be used, but Nikola recommends the following actions be taken immediately by all customers and dealers:
- Place the Main Battery Disconnect (MBD) switch into the “ON” position at all times to enable real-time vehicle monitoring and safety systems operation;
- Consider parking trucks outside to allow for over-the-air updates and better connectivity with Fleet Command, Nikola’s truck monitoring system.
Furthermore, the company’s hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, which are now being produced with deliveries slated to begin in Q3, are unaffected by the issue.
Nikola says that its software systems are being used in real-time to monitor trucks in the field and that thus far, just two battery packs have experienced a thermal event, out of more than 3,100 packs on trucks manufactured to date, which amounts to less than 0.07 percent.
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