The user of a natural gas-powered road tractor is suing the manufacturers of the vehicle, the engine and the fuel tanks after the unit caught fire and exploded on Interstate 81 in early January. The three manufacturers named in the suit deny there was anything wrong with the equipment.
Kane Is Able Inc., a national third-party logistics company, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Kane’s home state, claiming that Volvo breached its warranties in connection with the incident, which destroyed the tractor, the trailer and the load inside.
The lawsuit also names Cummins Westport, the manufacturer of the compressed natural gas engine, and Agility Fuel Systems, which built and installed the compressed natural gas tanks and fuel delivery systems.
According to the suit, the vehicle was only five months old and had been run only 3,000 miles before it caught fire during the course of an ordinary customer run. The fire and subsequent explosion were caught on video by a passerby and forwarded to Kane.
The suit states that Volvo has refused to pay for or replace the tractor, the damaged trailer, or cargo and related costs. Kane alleges that “Volvo has breached both express and implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose and that the unit was negligently manufactured and/or designed.”
Kane is also seeking the value of the remaining six vehicles, which it has not used since the fire.
Volvo Trucks, Cummins Westport and Agility all say that investigations showed that neither the vehicle nor its gas engine and fuel system were faulty. Volvo spokesman Avery Vise further responded to TruckingInfo's query by noting that Volvo did not make the engine, and did not make or install the fuel tanks.
“However, Volvo thoroughly investigated this incident in conjunction with the engine and tank manufacturers, keeping both the customer and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fully updated throughout. Volvo provided the customer with rental units at our cost to support their operations while the investigation was pending,” Vise said.
“After extensive investigation, we were unable to identify any defect in the design, materials, or manufacturing in any of the components installed by Volvo. Our testing found no support for the cause of the fire suggested by Kane.”
A vehicle recall initiated by Cummins Inc. prior to the incident, and cited in the lawsuit, affected Volvo and other truck builders, but inspections by Cummins found nothing that was related to the subsequent fire, he continued.
“… We worked closely with our supplier partners to thoroughly examine the vehicles Kane decided to park. This investigation convinced us that the vehicles should be returned to service," Vise concluded.