A U.S. Senate committee is seeking testimony from the leaders of the U.S. units of Hyundai and Kia regarding engine fires that have been reported to safety regulators.
 - Photo via Glyn Lowe/Flickr.

A U.S. Senate committee is seeking testimony from the leaders of the U.S. units of Hyundai and Kia regarding engine fires that have been reported to safety regulators.

Photo via Glyn Lowe/Flickr.

The U.S. Senate's Commerce Committee has asked the chief executive officers of Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. to testify about reports of engine fires involving their vehicles at a Nov. 14 hearing, reports Reuters.

The request comes after advocacy group Center for Auto Safety pointed out that more than 100 fire complaints were filed with U.S. safety regulators since June, leading the group to push for the recall of some 3 million vehicles.

In May 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a formal investigation into the recall of approximately 1.7 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles due to engine defects, notes the report. Also in 2017, a non-collision fire fatality in a 2014 Kia Soul was reported.

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the committee's chairman, and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) made the recent request for testimony to the two CEOs in a letter that said the hearing would "examine efforts to mitigate vehicle fires and promptly identify and respond to defects that may pose a fire risk."

While Hyundai replied in a statement that the company is currently reviewing the request to appear, Kia did not comment, reports Reuters.

There have been approximately 62 non-crash fire-related recalls affecting 6.8 million vehicles from 2017 through early August 2018 across the industry, according to a recent Highway Loss Data Institute report.

Hyundai recalled 470,000 U.S. Sonata sedans in 2015, noting that engine failure would result in a vehicle stall, increasing the risk of a crash. At that time, affiliate Kia did not recall its vehicles, which share the same Theta II engines. 

In March 2017, Hyundai expanded its original U.S. recall to 572,000 Sonata and Santa Fe Sport vehicles with Theta II engines, citing the same issue involving manufacturing debris, NHTSA said. 

Kia also recalled nearly 620,000 Optima, Sorento, and Sportage vehicles that use the same engine, according to Reuters.

As recently as June, the Center for Auto Safety filed a petition seeking a defect investigation over engine fires in 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento vehicles and Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles from the same model years.

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