DENVER – The number of Kia and Hyundai vehicles that have unexpectedly caught fire has grown to more than 300, the Center for Auto Safety announced Wednesday. The group sent a letter to Congress requesting a formal investigation.
The watchdog group is concerned with 2011-2014 Kia Sorentos and Optimas and Hyundai Santa Fes and Sonatas. It also says Kia Souls from 2010 through 2015 are affected.
Read the letter to lawmakers who are part of several congressional committees
The fires have sometimes occurred as an owner was driving down the road and have affected people in Colorado.
“In the interest of the safety of those who drive these Kia and Hyundai vehicles and those who share the road with them, we urge this Congress to investigate why these manufacturers have refused to address this problem and why the the (sic) agency responsible for overseeing highway and traffic safety has allowed such continued malfeasance,” said the letter sent by Center for Auto Safety Executive Director Jason Levine.
He called the issue a “potentially deadly problem” and blamed Kia and Hyundai.
“They refuse to acknowledge the problem is a manufacturing defect. They have refused to explain why to Congress, and [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] political leadership has refused to force the companies to take any action,” Levine wrote.
Ronnie and Ray Kline, of Johnstown, Colo., were driving their 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe when it burst into flames as they were driving through the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 last July.
Cindy Titus was driving on I-76 toward Denver in September of last year when her 2013 Kia Sorento caught on fire.
"Within seconds I lost my brakes, my steering, my everything and my car was on fire,” she told Denver7 in a SKYPE interview from her house in Lincoln, Neb.
Titus grabbed her dog, Finley, and bailed out while the car was still moving.
"Within seconds my whole car engulfed in flames from the back to the front," she said.