Nation & World

Audi recalls first e-vehicle in the United States

Battery fire risk cited for the move

A logo of Audi is pictured next to flags with logos of VW at a car shop in Bad Honnef near Bonn, Germany, November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
A logo of Audi is pictured next to flags with logos of VW at a car shop in Bad Honnef near Bonn, Germany, November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Volkswagen luxury brand Audi is recalling its first all-electric vehicle due to the risk of a battery fire.

The company issued a voluntary recall of approximately 540 E-Tron SUV models sold in the United States because of a risk that moisture can seep into the battery cell through a wiring harness glitch, spokesman Mark Dahncke said.

The company isn’t aware of any fires or injuries because of the flaw, which affects a total of 1,644 models, he said.

The E-Tron, which went on sale in the United States in April, is Audi’s first fully electric car and one in a wave of contenders from traditional automakers looking to challenge Tesla’s dominance of the segment.

While electric vehicles are no more prone to accidents or fires than gasoline-powered cars — and might be less so, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — the lithium-ion battery technology that powers them still is evolving, and there is no consensus on safe system design.

Audi said there have been five instances globally in which a battery fault light turned on because of the moisture issue. It began contacting E-Tron owners in the United States last week — before a warning from federal safety regulators — and should have a repair available by August.

“We are applying an abundance of caution as no such incidents have been reported globally,” the company said in a statement.

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Audi said it’s offering E-Tron owners loaner vehicles and an $800 cash card to cover gas or incidentals during the recall period, as well as free roadside assistance.

There still are E-Trons unaffected by the recall available for sale, it said.

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