Nikola, the leading electric semi-truck manufacturer, has announced a massive recall of its battery-powered commercial trucks due to concerns over a defective battery component that can cause fire. The recall is the result of an investigation into a fire at Nikola’s own facility. Ominously, the company advises truck owners to park their vehicles outside.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Nikola’s recall comes in the wake of a fire incident that occurred on June 23, when a truck parked at the company’s Phoenix headquarters caught fire. An external investigation into the incident revealed that a “defective battery part likely caused a fire in one of the trucks.”
The company said on Friday that a battery part was probably to blame for a coolant leak in one of the trucks. The battery overheated, which resulted in the fire. Initially, there were speculations from Nikola hinting at potential foul play as the cause of the fire. However, the investigation firm hired to probe the incident indicated that foul play was an unlikely cause.
The Nikola safety and engineering teams discovered a part inside the battery-powered truck that is probably to blame for the coolant leak while the business tries to address the problem. The company remains optimistic, stating that the trucks can continue to operate, but with certain precautions. Nikola advises owners to enable real-time monitoring on their trucks and to think about parking their trucks outside.
About 60 percent of the heavy-duty battery-electric trucks that Nikola produced in the previous year are included in the vehicles that are currently being recalled. This includes almost all of the trucks that have been shipped to customers, with the remaining unsold trucks currently parked at Nikola properties.
Nikola announced that it was notifying the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the recall and that it was temporarily stopping the sale of battery-electric vehicles. The company has also been adjusting its production strategies, focusing more on its hydrogen fuel-cell electric trucks.
Interestingly, the battery-electric trucks, known as the Tre BEV model, were a relatively new addition to Nikola’s product line, having been introduced just a year ago. The company’s primary focus since its inception in 2015 has been on hydrogen trucks. The introduction of the BEV model was seen as a strategic move to raise awareness of Nikola in the commercial truck market and to gain assembly experience.