Ford of Europe has recalled all models of its Kuga plug-in hybrid built up until June 26 after a number of vehicles caught fire.
Until the recall is completed, Ford is asking Kuga owners not to drive the car in electric-only mode and not to charge the battery externally. It says the vehicle should only be used in EV Auto drive mode, which shuffles the power between battery and engine automatically. The Kuga plug-in hybrid can travel 56km (35 miles) on electric power only, according to WLTP figures.
"This is because we have identified a potential issue with the overheating of the high-voltage drive battery, which in certain circumstances could possibly result in a fire in the battery area," Ford said.
Ford has identified four Kuga plug-in hybrids that have caught fire, Autocar magazine said in a report.
A fire may occur when damage to a charging module or connector causes a water leak, which could result in an electrical short that in turn could cause the battery cells to overheat, according to a recall notice on the European Union’s consumer alert website.
Ford said it has engineered a shield to protect components if the battery needs to vent hot gases to release pressure and heat. The company said it was “rare” that the battery would need to do this. The shield will be fitted by dealers.
The recall affects 20,808 models, Ford said in a statement.
Ford builds the Kuga in Valencia, Spain.
Ford registered 20,065 Kugas in Europe in the first half, according to research by JATO Dynamics, meaning about half of the affected Kuga plug-in hybrids models are still with dealers waiting to be sold or delivered.
Ford has prioritized sales of the plug-in hybrid version of the Kuga to avoid paying fines for exceeding the EU’s stricter CO2 emission reduction limits introduced this year.