Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that it would open a new safety defect probe into approximately three million units of vehicles from Kia Motors Corp and Hyundai Motor Co for fires that are not caused by crashes.
The probe comes as a response to a petition that seeks for an investigation to be conducted by the Centre for Auto Safety. Since 2007, the auto safety agency has been investigating some of the vehicles of both Hyundai and Kia for fire risks. The South Korean automakers have recalled over 2.3 million vehicles since 2015 to address various engine fire risks.
Hyundai was not immediately available for comment regarding the matter, while Kia did not respond to a request for comment.
NHTSA said that the decision to launch the additional safety defect investigation was based on its analysis of the information that it received from various consumer complaints, manufacturers, and some other sources.
Last month, General William Tong, a Connecticut Attorney, said that a group of states in the United States is investigating both Kia and Hyundai for possible unfair and deceptive acts that are related to reports of hundreds of vehicle fires.
In November, Reuters reported that federal prosecutors had launched a criminal investigation into Hyundai and Kia to determine if vehicle recalls linked to engine defects had been properly conducted.
Last January, Reuters reported that the firms would offer software upgrades for approximately 3.7 million of its vehicles not being recalled.
In 2016, a whistleblower from South Korea reported some concerns to the NHTSA, which has been investigating the timeliness of three recalls in the United States of America and whether they covered enough vehicles.
In 2015, Hyundai recalled approximately 470,000 Sonata sedans in the United States. At the time, it said that engine failure would result in a vehicle stall, raising the risk of a crash. At the time, Kia did not decide to recall its vehicles, which share the same “Theta II” engines.
In March 2017, Hyundai increased its original recall in the United States to 572,000 Sonata and Santa Fe Sport vehicles with the same Theta II engines. It cited the same issue involving manufacturing debris. On the same day, Kia also announced a recall on approximately 618,000 Sorento, Sportage, and Optima vehicles, all of which use the same engine.