US safety agency opens probes into Hyundai and Kia fires

April 01, 2019 - 12:15 pm

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government's highway safety agency has decided to open two new investigations into fires involving Hyundai and Kia vehicles after getting complaints of more than 3,100 fires and 103 injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it granted a petition seeking the investigations by the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group that filed the petition in June of last year.

The investigations would look into Hyundai and Kia separately and cover non-crash fires in almost 3 million vehicles from the affiliated Korean automakers, including the 2011 through 2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, the 2011 through 2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and the 2010 through 2015 Kia Soul. The complaints came from consumers and from data provided by both automakers.

NHTSA had previously said it would incorporate the noncrash fires into an investigation it had already started into recalls of Hyundai and Kia vehicles for engine failures, but it opened the new investigations "based on the agency's analysis of information received from multiple manufacturers, consumer complaints and other sources."

Jason Levine, executive director of the center, said in a statement that it is long past time for the agency to investigate why so many Kia and Hyundai vehicles have caught fire when not involved in crashes.

"While it may be six months post-due, we are gratified to see NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigations open formal investigations based on our petition," Levine said.

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