By Jonathan Raymond
(RNN) – An advocacy group is demanding for the recall of nearly 3 million Hyundai and Kia cars amid widespread reports of the vehicles catching fire.
The group, the Center for Auto Safety, issued a release on Friday which said there have been more than 220 complaints registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over “non-collision fires” in 2011-14 Kia Sorento, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata and Hundai Santa Fe, as well as 2010-15 Kia Soul models.
In June the NHTSA expanded an investigation into Kia and Hyundai engine failures, it said in response to an inquiry from Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
The regulatory agency said that it had received 402 “related to both collision and non-collision fires.”
The Center for Auto Safety’s executive director, Jason Levine, said in Friday’s release that “we have seen reports of almost one fire every single day across these five models.”
“The number and severity of these complaints, when people are simply driving their cars on the highway, is frightening,” Levine said. “It is long past time for Kia and Hyundai to act.”
The group criticized the carmakers for their noncommittal responses and “inability, or unwillingness, to determine the cause of these fires no behalf of the hundreds of Kia and Hyundai customers who own cars which have burst into flames.”
Both companies responded to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report last week with statements that said they were “proud of (our) strong safety record and the integrity of our products” (Kia) and that “the safety and security of our customers is (our) number one priority” (Hyundai).
That report noted that of 143 complaints regarding Kia and Hyundai vehicles made to federal officials, 40 percent were manufactured at a Kia plant in Georgia and 80 percent of the engines came from an Alabama Hyundai plant.
“The volume of fires here make it appear that Hyundai and Kia are content to sit back and allow consumers, and insurers, to bear the brunt of poorly designed, manufactured, or repaired vehicles,” Levine said.
The Center for Auto Safety describes itself as an “independent, non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for auto safety, quality, and fuel economy.”
It was founded in 1970 by former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, a noted auto safety advocate.
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