Stellantis recalling 19K Pacifica hybrid minivans for fire risk

Kalea Hall Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Stellantis NV on Friday said it is recalling 19,808 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for fire risks, adding another model to a growing list of electrified vehicles that have the possibility of igniting.

Only models from 2017 and 2018 are affected. The recall comprises an estimated 16,741 vehicles in the United States, 2,317 vehicles in Canada and another 750 outside North America.

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Hybrid.

The recall comes after crosstown rival General Motors Co. in August recalled every Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV model as a result of manufacturing defects in the batteries that increase the risk for fires. South Korean battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution makes the batteries for both the Pacifica and Bolt at its Holland plant in western Michigan.

Stellantis said "a routine company review of customer data led to an internal investigation that discovered 12 fires among model-year 2017 and 2018 vehicles. All were parked and turned off, while eight were connected to chargers." 

The automaker said it isn't aware of any related injuries or accidents. While it works to confirm the cause of the fires, Stellantis is advising owners of the affected vehicles "to refrain from recharging them, and to park them away from structures and other vehicles."

LG Energy Solution said in a Friday statement: “There is no confirmed root cause of fires in the STLA vehicles that is subject to the recall, or proof directly linking to the battery, as mentioned in its statement. Considering STLA’s statement, LGES has no further comment.”

When a remedy for the cause is developed, Stellantis will provide it free of charge. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan uses 16 kilowatt-hour batteries. The Pacifica's 12-volt battery that powers in-vehicle electronics previously was recalled, but not the high-voltage batteries of its plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Jeep brand plug-in hybrid vehicles with 4xe technology are unaffected.

GM has confirmed 18 battery fires globally on the Bolts out of a population of more than 141,000 recalled. Only minor injuries have been reported and no deaths. LG Electronics Inc. of South Korea agreed to let GM recover $1.9 billion for the battery fire risk recall. 

The Detroit automaker said the Bolt battery defects — a torn anode tab and folded separator — were found in cells produced at LG manufacturing facilities in Holland, Michigan, and Ochang, South Korea. Battery packs for the Bolt are assembled at an LG facility in Hazel Park.

Production of the Bolts has been down for months and remains down through February as LG and GM prioritize new battery modules for recalled Bolts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation opened a "preliminary evaluation" into the Bolt fires in October 2020. The office on Feb. 7 closed the investigation.

"In view of the recall actions being taken by General Motors, ODI is closing this Preliminary Evaluation," the office wrote in a publicly available file. "NHTSA reserves the right to take additional action if warranted by future circumstances."

GM spokesman Dan Flores said in a statement Friday: "We remain focused on executing the recall repairs and satisfying our customers.”

The Detroit News reported last September the federal auto safety agency was in talks with LG about what other carmakers' EVs could be affected by potential defects. 

LG batteries were also used in recalled Hyundai Motor Co. vehicles. In April 2021, Hyundai recalled 3,463 2019 and 2020 Kona EVs in Canada and 4,694 in the U.S. to address a battery defect that posed a fire risk. 

The South Korean automaker said the vehicles included in the recall had battery cells "containing a defect that could result in an electrical short." The issue, found in battery cells made in LG's Nanjing, China, plant, is that the anode tab can be folded, The News previously reported.

Both GM and Stellantis are partners on battery plants with LG. GM and LG, through joint venture Ultium Cells LLC, are planning four battery cell manufacturing plants in the U.S. The first one in northeast Ohio will open later this year. 

Stellantis is planning a battery plant with LG at an unnamed North American location. The companies have said they planned to break ground on the facility in the second quarter of this year and start production in 2024.

Twitter: @bykaleahall

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