© Reuters. Paris Motor Show
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. security officials on Monday opened an investigation into nearly 1.9 million Toyota RAV4 sport utility vehicles for potential fire risks.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that the 2013-2018 RAV4 vehicle preliminary assessment will be made after 11 reports of fires.
The agency said some drivers stalled before the fire half the times the vehicle was in motion. The 12-volt battery was identified as the area of origin in most of the incidents investigated, the agency said.
"Toyota is aware that NHTSA has initiated this investigation and we are working with the agency," said Toyota spokesman Ed Hellwig.
The RAV4 is Toyota's best-selling vehicle in the United States.
The NHTSA said improper battery installation or previous repairs to front-end collisions was a factor in fire reports. However, the agency said that despite these outside influences on the battery retention method, the number of vehicle fires reported with the battery as an area of origin is greater than that of other similar vehicles.
The agency said the investigation was "opened to better understand the factors and frequency of vehicle fires originating from the battery area of the vehicles in question".
According to a report, a RAV4 caught fire in Lyon, Colorado after the owner of a 2017 Toyota RAV4 hybrid drove 50 mph when the check engine light came on and then white smoke rose from under the hood.
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