U.S. safety officials have added the 2012 model year to an investigation of engine fires in the Chevrolet Cruze compact car.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last month it was investigating the 2011 Cruze because of two complaints of fires that engulfed and destroyed the cars.
In documents posted on its website this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked GM for information about fires in 2011 and 2012 Cruzes. The request, made in April, focused on electrical wiring and connectors, and on a computer module that controls the transmission. NHTSA asked GM for any allegations of overheated wiring or smoke and fire coming from the engine compartment.
The Cruze is a key car for Chevrolet and General Motors because it's a strong entry in a market where GM had weak products in the past. The car, built in Lordstown, Ohio, came out in 2010 as a 2011 model. It was the top-selling compact in the U.S. from May through September last year. So far this year, GM has sold more than 75,000 Cruzes, about the same sales pace as 2011.
Initially the government probe covered about 177,000 Cruzes from the 2011 model year. GM spokesman Alan Adler said the probe now covers about 370,000 cars. GM is cooperating with the investigation, said Adler, who would not comment further because the investigation is in progress.
The Cruze has not been recalled, although NHTSA investigations can lead to recalls.
No one was hurt in the two 2011 Cruze fires that were reported to the government. In addition, the government has received one complaint of a fire in a 2012 Cruze. The driver told NHTSA that on April 29, flames came from the front of the car while it was being driven around 45 miles per hour. Firefighters had to put out the blaze but no one was injured.