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Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid fire-risk recall requires battery pack update

Stellantis NV on Friday said it has a remedy for a recall on Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans after more than a dozen caught fire.

A root cause hasn't been identified in the blazes that affected the 2017 and 2018 models that are included in the recall, though the automaker says it has identified conditions that potentially precede a fire, which the fix addresses.

Stellantis is directing its dealers to update the software of the high-voltage battery pack control module to monitor the status of the battery pack for conditions that could lead to a fire. Dealers also will inspect and replace, if necessary, the battery pack. The estimated repair time is 1½ to two days and there is no cost to vehicle owners, who will receive alternative transportation while the vehicle is serviced.

"Stellantis has validated its remedy and will begin advising affected customers of service availability late next week," spokesman Eric Mayne said in a statement. "The remedy will enable customers to resume vehicle operation as outlined in their owners’ manuals. Stellantis urges customers to follow the instructions on any recall notification they receive."

The recall covers 19,808 vehicles from the 2017 and 2018 model years. Two more fires, including one with a minor injury, have been reported since the company in February said it had heard of 12 fires. In those 12 instances, the minivans were parked and turned off. Eight were connected to chargers when they ignited. No injuries or accidents were reported for those.

At the time, Stellantis didn't have a fix, but advised customers to avoid charging them and park away from structures and other vehicles. The dealer inspection for the recall will invovle charging and a full diagnostic assessment of the high-voltage battery.

The recall comprised an estimated 16,741 vehicles in the United States, 2,317 vehicles in Canada and another 750 outside North America.

South Korean battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution supplies the plug-in hybrid's batteries. The Pacifica recall for fire risk is the latest involving vehicles with its batteries. A recall of every single Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV produced by General Motors Co. because of two battery defects resulted in a $2 billion recall that LGES mostly is covering. The all-electric Hyundai Kona also had a recall for a battery defect.

The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan uses 16 kilowatt-hour batteries from LGES's Holland plant in western Michigan. 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 were unaffected.

Stellantis is planning a battery plant with LGES in Windsor, Ontario. The NextStar Energy joint venture expects to start production there in 2024.

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