Last month, it was suggested in a newspaper story that Volkswagen to consider adding more electric vehicles to its product mix as a way to help meet issues that have arisen in the Dieselgate scandal where it is known that some diesel vehicles can emit more than 40 times the allowable level of oxides of nitrogen. Now, in an ironic twist, the number one European automaker has recalled every electric vehicle sold in the U.S. since sales began in November 2014.
Yesterday, Volkswagen announced the recall of 5,600 e-Golf electric vehicles for a battery problem that can result in stalling. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), VW is recalling all 2015-16 e-Golf models due to a software problem. The problem is in the high-voltage battery management system. The system, NHTSA said yesterday, “may inadvertently classify a brief internal electrical current surge/peak as a critical battery condition.” In turn, the car could shut down.
Interestingly, the Dieselgate scandal that affects nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles in the U.S. is also software-based. Last September, the German automaker admitted it had been cheating on its emissions for seven years. Beginning in 2008, the automaker said it had installed a software “defeat switch” that turned on the emissions system if a test was detected. The results of the cheating, while enabling good performance and high mileage from diesel vehicles, led to millions of vehicles with faulty software and high emissions levels.
To fix the e-Golf problem dealers will flash a software update (cars use flash memory that can be reprogrammed with special tools to repair software problems) on its electric vehicles. Sales of the electric model began in 2014 with sales of 357 models. Electric sales shot up to 4,232 last year. So far this year, the automaker has sold 526 copies. Yesterday’s recall also affects the 157 unsold e-Golfs still on dealer lots.
Volkswagen, in its filing with the regulatory agency, said that the issue could “cause an emergency shutdown of the high-voltage battery, which in turn dactivates the vehicle’s electrical drive motor.” The automaker said it received the first complaint of a stalling early last year. A second similar event was reported on one of VW’s internal test vehicles. Recently, the number of stalling events has grown which has prompted the recall.
Electric cars apparently have an important place in the thinking of U.S. regulators. According to a story in the influential weekly, Bild am Sonntag, U.S. officials have urged the automaker to increase the number of electric vehicles in the U.S. The increase in electrics would be one way for the automaker to make up for Dieselgate. Though it cited no sources for its report, the paper said that EPA had asked VW to build added electrics at its Chattanooga, Tenn., plant. The agency also reportedly asked VW to help build a network of charging stations for electrics in the U.S. The agency has declined to comment on the story.
Information for this story was provided by Automotive News.