August 8, 2023

Volvo, Mack replacing batteries on electric trucks


Volvo Trucks North America and Mack Trucks are recalling nearly all the battery-powered electric trucks made over the past four years because of an issue that can cause a battery fire.

The recall is the fourth for the trucks since they entered series production in 2022. The latest recall affects 173 Volvo and nine Mack vehicles built between April 1, 2019, and Feb. 10, 2023. 

Battery-powered electric trucks are still relatively new on the market. Some of the issues are consistent with new products. They develop bugs that need to be fixed, not unlike traditional diesel trucks.

Over-torquing can lead to debris in batteries

The latest recalls for the two Volvo Group brands relate to an over-torquing of buss bars, according to a post on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. A buss bar is an electrical junction used for collecting electric power from the incoming feeders and distributing it to the outgoing feeders.

Over-torquing of the rivet nut can lead to shearing that results in debris in the battery pack. That could lead to a short inside the battery pack, increasing the risk of a fire. Volvo listed insufficient process controls in assembly tooling and in the battery assembly rework as the cause.

The battery thermal management system will warn a driver of a battery overheating through a malfunction light on the instrument cluster, Volvo said.

Battery with nonspreading fire discovered in shipment

Volvo on July 5 discovered a battery shipped to its Virginia assembly plant from an Akasol plant in Ohio had a nonspreading fire inside a single Akasol Gen 3 battery. No other batteries in the shipment experienced similar incidents. That discovery triggered a safety investigation and a stop-delivery order on July 12.

An Akasol battery issue led to a recall in October of eight VNR electric trucks and one Mack unit. 

Volvo and Mack reported no instances of the issue in the field. The companies expect about 15% of the trucks in the latest recall to have the issue. The NHTSA recall for Volvo is 23V-512. For Mack, it is 23V-514. Dealers learned of the recall on July 28. Customers mailings target Sept. 15.

A second battery with evidence of internal electric arcing was identified at Akasol’s assembly operations. Germany-based Akasol is a subsidiary of BorgWarner Inc., a Tier 1 supplier that purchased Akasol for $880 million in 2021.

Electric truck maker Nikola experienced a battery fire June 28 in one of its trucks outside its Phoenix headquarters. The company said Friday that one truck caught on fire, damaging four others. The truck that started the fire reignited in late July and was extinguished. Romeo Power made that battery. Nikola acquired Romeo in an all-stock purchase in August 2022. It is in the process of liquidating Romeo’s assets.

Coincidentally, BorgWarner had formed a joint venture with Romeo in 2019 that it dissolved in 2022 around the time its purchase of Akasol closed.

Electric truck recalls begin to mount — albeit in small numbers

BorgWarner buying European battery maker Akasol for $880M

Fire-damaged Nikola truck reignites. Will a recall follow?

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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