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.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.