Polaris fined $27 million for slow disclosure of vehicle defects

April 4, 2018 GMT

Minnesota-based Polaris Industries received 150 reports of fires tied to its RZR recreational off-road vehicles, including one that resulted in the death of a 15-year old, before disclosing the hazards, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Monday.

That reporting failure, together with a failure to quickly disclose defects on some of its Ranger off-road vehicle models, led to a $27.25 million civil penalty, the agency said in a statement.

Polaris built more than 100,000 RZR 900s and RZR 1000s between 2013 and 2016. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff charged Polaris received information that the RZRs could catch fire while consumers were driving, posing fire and burn hazards to drivers and passengers but that the company “failed to immediately notify CPSC of the defect or risk posed by the ROVs, as required by federal law.”

By the time Polaris did disclose, “it had received reports of 150 fires, including one that resulted in the death of a 15-year old passenger, 11 reports of burn injuries and a fire that consumed ten acres of land,” the agency said.

Between December 2013 and July 2016, Polaris received 36 reports of fires associated with its model year 2014 Rangers and made two design changes to prevent the heat shields from becoming loose and falling off, the CPSC said.

Polaris manufactured about 93,500 Ranger XP 900, XP 900 EPS and CREW 900 vehicles in 2014 and 2015. CPSC said the heat shield could fall off the vehicle, posing fire and burn hazards. Polaris reported the fires on model year 2014 Rangers to CPSC in July 2016 and announced a recall of 42,500 model year 2014 ROVs in September 2016.

After the recall, Polaris received reports of heat shields coming loose or falling off the model year 2015 Ranger, including reports of fires, but it didn’t immediately notify CPSC about those problems, the agency said, adding by the time Polaris did report, it had received 10 reports of “heat shield incidents, including five reports of fires.” That led to a recall of 51,000 units in April 2017.

The settlement does not constitute an admission of the CPSC staff charges, the agency added.