Ford Delaying Electric SUV Launch Due To Fires During Recharging

Legacy auto manufacturer Ford is being forced to delay the launch of its plug-in hybrid Ford Escape SUV to 2021 after "thousands" of similar SUVs in Europe were recalled for catching fire while recharging.

And it's tough to save the planet when you're suffering from third degree burns.

The hybrid had originally been planned to go into production over the spring, but the pandemic forced Ford to close several factories, delaying its release, according to Bloomberg. Now, the company is pushing the release to 2021 as it addresses issues with its "Kuga" model, released in the European market. The "Kuga" shares parts with the Escape, including the battery and engine.

Mike Levine of Ford said: “We’re moving production to next year while we investigate what happened to the Kuga in Europe. None have been sold in the U.S.”

Ford has started building a redesigned version of the plug-in SUV in Louisville, Kentucky. Meanwhile, in Europe, Ford is working on fixing a problem related to venting heat from the Kuga's batteries. "Several" fires in Europe have prompted a recall of all 20,500 Kuga models sold there. 

 

Ford is allowing European owners to continue driving their Kugas but has told them not to plug them into walls. Customers have to operate their vehicles in conventional "hybrid" mode without charging them. They issued 500 euro gasoline cards to reimburse drivers for the loss of fuel economy.

We wonder how long it'll be before customers simply ignore the instructions and go back to plugging their vehicles in after spending their gas cards...

The delay may not have come at the worst time. As Bloomberg notes, it comes at a soft period of U.S. demand for small SUVs. Sales of these vehicles were down almost 23% in the third quarter and are down 32% this year. 

Mark LaNeve, Ford’s U.S. marketing chief, said: “We have some availability problems. We’re managing those vehicles for long-term health from a residual-value standpoint and not highly discounting them compared to the previous generation.”

The SUVs are a small part of Ford's $11.5 billion investment into battery powered vehicles.