Early Kia Niro EV models are being recalled for drive-unit components that may have been improperly sealed. The recall is very small, however, affecting just 872 vehicles from the 2020 model year.
The recall involves the electric power control unit (EPCU), one of the most critical and expensive components in an EV. It controls the flow of power throughout the drivetrain, so if it’s compromised, there could be major problems.
According to a recall report published by the NHTSA, this improper sealing could allow coolant to leak into the EPCU and onto its circuit board, which in turn could cause vehicles to stall while driving.
Kia first noticed the problem, which involves components purchased from a supplier, in the European market, according to the report. The problem was corrected by the supplier on July 6, 2020, and 2020 Niro EVs built beginning on September 5 of that year are confirmed to have properly sealed EPCUs.
Owners of recalled vehicles will be notified of when to take them to a Kia dealership, where the EPCU will be inspected for internal coolant leakage and, if necessary, replaced, free of charge.
This isn’t the first recall related to sealing that’s come up recently. Good sealing is one of the essentials for nearly all core vehicle components—EV or not—but the GMC Hummer EV’s battery pack recall stands out as a particularly large oversight from recent months.
The Hyundai Kona Electric, from Kia’s parent brand, was subject to a large battery recall. Although some outlets have erroneously reported them as related, they’re different vehicles built on different battery packs—the Hyundai with an LG pack, and the Niro EV with cells from SK Innovation.
Versus the very different competitive set for affordable EVs that was present nearly four years ago, the first-generation Niro EV drove well and had above-par range. The 2023 Niro EV has been redesigned but isn’t as good of a deal in the U.S., due to the loss of the $7,500 EV tax credit for the South Korea-assembled model.
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