Volkswagen threatens recall of 124,000 electric cars

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German automaker warns it may be forced to recall 124,000 electric and hybrid vehicles, due to traces of cadmium in chargers.

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Source: Volkswagen
Source: Volkswagen

A charger containing traces of cadmium is causing headaches for Volkswagen, which says that because of the presence of the carcinogenic metal, the German automaker may be forced to recall 124,000 electric and hybrid vehicles.

The toxic heavy metal was once used to plate trims on many vintage vehicles, but it is now banned for use in most car parts due to its cancer-causing effects.

A supplier, who has not been named by the company, had not indicated that the toxic heavy metal had been used in the chargers it supplied to the automaker for installation in battery-electric and hybrid vehicles made under the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche brand names between 2013 and June 2018.

Traces of the toxic heavy metal were detected in small amounts by the company on July 20, with each charger containing 0.008 grams of cadmium per charger.

Reports say that the automaker took immediate action, stopping production and delivery of vehicles concerned and informing Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA).

The cadmium is present in a relay that resides inside a solid housing within the charger, and the company says that drivers are not at risk of exposure.

The presence of the heavy metal does however pose a risk to technicians who may come in contact with the component, and may not conform with European end-of-life regulations.

The 124,000 affected vehicles are not yet being recalled, as Volkswagen awaits a verdict from the KBA to clarify if the chargers breach health and safety standards, however production has resumed with cadmium-free chargers now being sourced from another supplier.

It is not the first controversy withstood by the nearly 80-year-strong car manufacturer. In September 2015, the company announced the need to refit 11 million vehicles worldwide after being issued an emissions violation notice by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Although the automaker has promised to launch a new electric vehicle ‘virtually every month‘, there are no electric VWs currently available in Australia and so Aussie consumers are not affected by the recall.

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12 Comments
  1. Joe 1 year ago

    The auto industry needs to lift its game. If it isn’t Tata airbags or emissions cheating scandals, its something new like this with the cadmium. The quality control these days seems to have gone out the window.

    • Andy Saunders 1 year ago

      To be fair to Indian car manufacturer (among other businesses) Tata, they don’t manufacture airbags.

      The Japanese firm Takata, however, does.

      As regards 8mg of cadmium inside a relay that no user is likely to actually touch, let’s just do a back of the envelope. According to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1578573/, the average German has 15mg of cadmium in their body already from ingestion of food. A lifelong smoker has 30mg. By ingesting 8mg (assuming that our mechanic breaks open the relay housing, finds the cadmium and swallows it), only 5% of the 8mg (or 0.4mg) is actually absorbed by the body, bumping up the body content to 15.8mg on average. That’s scarcely pandemic, run-away panic-inducing stuff, although of course it should have a program to replace the relays during regular service visits. Doubt it really warrants a recall, to be honest.

      • Peter Campbell 1 year ago

        Thanks. I was about to do a similar back of envelope. 8mg in one inexpensive and readily changed component within a box. It’s like when I attended a radiation safety course at work many years ago. I was using a tritium-labelled compound in certain experiments at the time. I worked out that I would stay within limits if I consumed my entire stock of the compound, which would do for a year of experiments, every 6 hours for a year. Even if I were extraordinarily sloppy in the lab, it was obvious I could not possibly ingest an amount that would come even within four or five orders of magnitude of an amount I should worry about.

      • MaxG 1 year ago

        Yep, agree! Nice post.

  2. john 1 year ago

    Can VW get any thing correct?
    This is a terrible news story for VW.
    So sad really do they have any engineers with any clear knowledge about what they are building?

    • Thorstein Klingenberg 1 year ago

      Did you read the article? A parts supplier to VW didn’t deliver the product they promised How is that VWs fault?

    • Alastair Leith 1 year ago

      I defy you to notice 8mg of anything in a relay switch. Relays themselves are inside a box and the component was inside a box. Unless its common knowledge Cd is used in relays some places I think that expectation is pretty high. I’m curious how they even discovered this fact? From a tech sheet or their own environmental testing regime?

  3. MaxG 1 year ago

    Well, in this case VW has done the right thing. They did not know the supplier used 8 milligram of cadmium in a relay built by a supplier. The ditched the supplier, and are using the non-cadmium laced relays. IMHO a recall is not warranted.

    • Vic Webster 1 year ago

      ….for a change.

  4. Paulo Almeida 1 year ago

    This total bullshit ….as someone already said, and assuming is is not only fake news, 8mg of cadmium inside a relay that no user is likely to actually touch … serious ?

    What is REALLY DANGEROUS is a car maker like Tesla that puts out 123,000 Model S cars with a faulty steering component!!!

    Tesla recalls 123,000 Model S cars over faulty steering component … that is news !
    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/29/tesla-recalls-123000-model-s-cars-over-potential-power-steering-failure-reports.html

    • Vic Webster 1 year ago

      ah…. so you’re one f those R wing nuts who associate clean energy advocates and environmentalists with the far left?
      BTW the technicians servicing the modules are at risk, you chose to ignore.

      • Alastair Leith 1 year ago

        Technicians will be advised of the issue though wouldn’t they? I guess not *all* technicians, or waste processing stations.

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