Re: Mahindra XUV700 fire caused by aftermarket parts
While I fully understand the company's position that it does not want owners to make modifications which can potentially create safety issues, result in any malfunction and to promote it's own products through dealers (business compulsions), I found this explanation from Mahindra strange - immature, illogical and irresponsible to a large extent. It will make every potential buyer of vehicle re-think, and most likely will make brand suffer. Even existing owners of Mahindra vehicles will start worrying.
Scuff plates, ambient lighting etc all are popular, low power LED based accessories. They are installed within the cabin section of the vehicle. Illuminated scuff plates should draw power only when door is opened, not when driving. Ambient lighting could be drawing power when driving too. Any sensible technician will connect these lighting loads to draw power from the fuse box (using tap) alternately tap it from other existing wires within the passenger cabin/doors without bypassing the OEM fusebox.
There is no reason to believe that these two accessories would need power to be drawn from any source in the engine compartment (unlike the cases of high power audio amplifiers/woofers), or any sane technician would lay new wires from battery etc through the firewall into the cabin. Too complex, time-consuming job for a few hundred rupees worth accessory.
Photographs/videos on social media do not show fire inside/around the passenger cabin, but mostly around the bonnet area. As an electrical engineer, I really wonder if the vehicle's electricals are designed properly, which, instead of blowing fuses inside the cabin or the main battery fuse, will lead to such fire. Is the wiring harness not fire retardant?
Generally, most cheap Chinese accessories use extremely thin, non-automobile grade wires (thin conductors with not-so-good conductivity, thin/delicate/non-fire retardant insulation, and some can crack with stress or due to climate over time. So, even if there is short circuit in the accessory, the first one to blow off would be the fuse (if properly rated) or the thin connecting accessory wire (if rating lower than the automobile fuses), but that can result in fire in the cabin, not the engine compartment.
I wonder, why would any experienced automobile company, who claim themselves to be leaders in Indian SUV space, claim to build rugged rural friendly vehicles, would install poorly-rated wiring harness in their vehicles, which would lead to fires even with slightest overload or installing a popular accessory?
Was there a fuel leak? There are many rubber hoses in new vehicles, often routed in a way which makes the compartment look cleaner and engine maintenance easier. However, are the hoses running through safe, protected routes, insulated from high engine temperature, electricals etc?
I strongly believe that the cause of fire was something different, and not the accessories as claimed by Mahindra - UNLESS (very very UNLIKELY scenario) the accessories were powered from the engine compartment using substandard wires, with bad installation and improper source within engine compartment OR damaged and tapped OEM wiring harness before the in-cabin fusebox.
Usually manufacturers run the wiring harness into cabin through rugged grommets, to prevent cuts due to friction/rubbing of wiring harness against the sharp metal edges. Was this missing/failed/cut/removed?
"Rats had damaged cables which resulted in short circuit" could have been a passable excuse if there was evidence, but this too is hard to believe. All good wiring harnesses in automobiles are wrapped with special insulation / tapes to keep the set of wires together, additionally to protect them from physical damages, resist fire, minimize chances of short circuits with chassis ground), resist rodent attacks, resist degradation of insulation due to extreme conditions and so on.
Mahindra has hardly 10% market share of Indian cars. Over 70% is shared between Maruti, Hyundai, Tatas. Most common accessories available in market would go in Maruti/Hyundai/Tata cars. Usually accessories makers develop one product, customize the same for different cars/brands instead of developing new from scratch with different materials/chips/LEDs for each vehicle. Technicians also use similar techniques to install accessories in different vehicles.
Therefore, UNLESS the installation of these accessories in XUV700 was so unique, we would have heard many more incidents of fire in Marutis, Hyundais, Tatas than Mahindra.
Therefore, Mahindra's theory and their Root Cause Analysis (RCA) looks doubtful. I haven't inspected the burnt vehicle, but neither Mahindra published the relevant photos / evidence with their claims.
With this RCA report from Mahindra, I really started to worry about my car now, on whether they will put the blame on the owner himself for any accidents, damages, even when they are caused by Manufacturer's own defective / failed systems.
Most BHPians will agree, newly launched Mahindra cars come with many defects or niggles, there is a history of multiple recalls, inconsistent experiences, often bad with Mahindra authorized workshops. Not just buggy software, but defective electricals, electronics, mechanical parts, paint/panels are not uncommon. And that Mahindra cars often spend longer time in authorized workshops than cars of other popular brands. My car too came with several tens of defects, some very serious, some not so.
I have installed a dashcam in my Scorpio-N (and my old XUV500 too had), fully disclosed all the details to the company and dealer in writing (emails, whatsapp, including parts, specs, photos etc, and I super confident of my installation - it is far better than the jugaad Mahindra or accessory shops often do). However, will that give an excuse to Mahindra to deny any service or honor their warranty?
I have noticed gangs operating in my city and roads I often use whose members intentionally throw themselves on cars/or intentionally bang their 2Ws on their targets, then abuse, demand money claiming they are injured. I have also seen fake policemen too. Having dashcam on my XUV500 saved me in the past from such gangs, and the gang members hide their faces and run away as soon as they see the dashcam.
I never install any decorative / fancy stuff, and always ensure any accessory (starting with floor mats) or even luggage/water bottles/papers do not cause any safety issues. I have strict warnings for my family too, not to use water bottles/phones or anything behind driver's seat when vehicle is in motion - there is a risk of bottle / phone getting dropped, sliding on the floor upto ABC pedals and block their movements.
Therefore, if Mahindra, after my honest disclosure, asks me to remove the dashcam and not provide me a reasonable alternate solution, would never ever buy a Mahindra vehicle in future, nor recommend it to anyone. My family's safety is more important for me, and therefore I want to retain the dashcam. It is not causing any obstruction in driver's vision (no new blind spot), not loading the windshield that it can break/crack, not causing excessive electrical loads and so on.
I have also asked Mahindra to allow me to install a standalone reversing assist camera with display and front parking/obstruction sensors, pref camera, (not feeding into the existing buggy, substandard Visteon system) as Mahindra still doesn't have such these necessary safety features or accessory in the Z6. I have seen small kids playing hide-and-seek in my society parking area, and no way I am willing to take any risk with their lives. The ultrasonic reversing sensors have too many blind zones.
Mahindra needs to do better! Good luck.
Last edited by Pulse500 : 27th May 2023 at 21:19.
Reason: Added missing words 'lower', 'popular'