An incident involving a driver losing steering ability in a two-month old Kia Soul has Kia Motors America and its suppliers investigating their manufacturing processes in an attempt to figure out what went wrong with the almost-new vehicle.
A preliminary investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began on Monday. It was prompted by a complaint reported from the owner of the Kia Soul who says the steering shaft decoupled from the steering wheel, fell on the floor and interfered with the function of the brake pedal.
The investigation may affect over 51,000 owners of Kia Souls, says the NHTSA.
In a recently issued statement, Kia’s vice president of service John Crowe said, “Kia Motors America has been actively cooperating with NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation since being advised by the Acting Director late last week that an investigation was being opened regarding the 2010 Kia Soul.”
He added, “Although the investigation is based on a single incident that did not result in an accident or injury, the entire Kia Motors organization—including our supplier base—is reviewing manufacturing processes with the goal of quickly determining if there is a manufacturing cause and preventing the issue from recurring.”
The fact that the steering system failure occurred “without warning” in a car that was only two months old, with only 4,300 miles on the odometer, has the NHTSA Office of Defect Investigation “very concerned.”
Safety regulators also said in a recent statement, “It occurred without warning on a new vehicle at low mileage and resulted in a complete loss of steering as well as a compromised brake system.”
Part of the investigation is also concerned with finding out if other Kia vehicles or those made by Kia’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Company, share the same steering system with the Soul. The Soul, a cube shaped model that competes with Toyota Motor Corporation’s Scion brand, has pushed Kia sales much higher for the year. As of the end of July, Hyundai had sold more than 36,657 of the Soul models.
The Automotive New data center reports that Kia has had a better sales year than the industry average 15%, with sales through July rising by 16% to 205,488 vehicles.
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