The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether a EV charging unit damaged a Nissan Leaf and led to a fire poses a safety hazard.
NHTSA said the agency is opening an investigation into 50 Bosch Power Xpress 250V charging units after a complaint that while charging a 2013 Leaf the EV “began to emit smoke around the vicinity of the vehicle/charger interface when charging at a private residence.”
After 90 minutes of charging “signs of overheating were first noticed. The overheating condition can cause damage to the vehicle and charger rendering both inoperable. Charging vehicles are typically left unattended and there is a risk of fire that could affect the vehicle and its surrounding environment.”
The complaint was filed in late August. “The connection had gotten hot enough to melt the plastic and create smoke indicating a fire. Nissan has determined by pictures that the car was not to blame for the incident. They are blaming the charging station for the failure,” said the complaint. “They have denied any warranty coverage. The burden of the bill has been placed with the customer.”
The vehicle was only five months old with fewer than 10,000 miles driven.
A spokesman for Leaf and spokeswoman for Bosch didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
NHTSA has investigated high-profile battery fires in Tesla Motors Model S cars and in crash-tested Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids.
Last month, Tesla said it would add a titanium shield to its electric Model S underbody and aluminum deflector plates, but would not recall the vehicles.
The upgrade came in the wake of three battery fires in North America last fall. NHTSA opened a formal investigation in November into 15,800 2012-2013 Model S EVs. The Palo Alto, Calif., EV manufacturer’s fix satisfied NHTSA.
Tesla told NHTSA that it has had no further reports of fires — which came after its fleet had logged about 90 million miles — and that its fleet has traveled another 90 million miles since the reports of fires last year with no further incidents.
In November, Tesla also said it would extend warranty coverage to fire claims.