Kia e-Niro Safety Issue

Kia e-Niro – Important Safety Notification

We have identified a serious safety issue with the latest version of the Kia e-Niro (2020 model)

This car is currently only available in a limited number of countries (eg The Netherlands) but will be released globally in the coming months.

In certain circumstances, when used with an EV charger such as the myenergi zappi which supports both three phase and single phase charging, the Kia causes a short circuit across the supply.  This can cause:

  • The main fuses to the property to blow – these will need to be replaced by the electricity distribution or supply company at a cost to the customer
  • Damage to the zappi – the zappi will need to be repaired or replaced
  • Possible damage to the EV

Although we have been made aware of this problem by our customers we are also aware that other EV charge points have encountered similar problems with the new Kia e-Niro.

We have contacted Kia and are doing what we can to draw their attention to this important safety issue with the e-Niro

 

In order to protect our customers we are advising the following for anyone who has a three phase zappi:

  • We strongly advise customers with the 4th Generation Ka e-Niro and a three phase zappi not to use the ECO or ECO+ modes until Kia can provide a solution for this safety issue
  • If you do want to use ECO and ECO+, do not switch between single phase charging and three phase charging without unplugging the car first (This includes switching to FAST or using a BOOST mode)
  • We recommend that ECO+ is set to charge in 3-phase mode only (Charge Settings Menu)

 

As well as attempting to raise this directly with Kia, we are investigating whether there are any changes that we can make to the zappi that can further protect our customers through a firmware update if possible.

Why does the Kia e-Niro cause this problem?

If the e-Niro is charging from a single phase supply it appears to use a relay to physically connect the supply phases L1 and L2 together – presumably because the car has two 3.6kW single phase chargers that need to be connected in parallel to charge at 7kW from one phase.

When the zappi switches to three phases it follows this sequence

  • Instructs the car to stop the charge
  • Opens the output contactors, completely isolating the output to the EV
  • Sends a reset sequence to the car (using the Control Pilot wire)
  • Restarts the charge in three phase mode
  • When the EV confirms that it is ready to charge the output contactors are closed again.

All other EV’s that support three phase charging (such as the Tesla Model 3 and Renault Zoe) respond as expected and charge safely.

Unfortunately, the Kia e-Niro does not respond to the above sequence and leaves the relay shorting L1 and L2 energised even though the supply has been isolated, causing a short circuit when the zappi starts the three-phase charge.

What is myenergi doing about this safety issue?

Although the problem is caused by the Kia e-Niro, we want to make sure that our customers are safe.

As well as doing what we can to publicise the issue, we are also working on new firmware for the zappi that will detect if there is a potential safety issue and prevent the change from single phase charging to three phase charging.   The aim is to make this firmware available by Friday 24th July 2020.

Unfortunately this change may also limit other cars that can work safely.   We are not happy about this and will continue to do whatever we can to influence Kia as well as working on the firmware to find ways to only detect potentially dangerous vehicles and allow all others to charge flexibly as designed.