Car Industry

Toxic cadmium discovered in 124,000 VW EV and plug-in chargers

The chargers were made by a third party manufacturer and Volkswagen claims it had no knowledge of the heavy metal's use.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

In yet another facepalm-worthy bit of news, Volkswagen seems to have equipped some of its European-market electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles with chargers from a third-party manufacturer that built them with components containing cadmium.

Why is that a big deal? Well, in case you skipped chemistry in high school, cadmium is a heavy metal, once widely used in electronics, that has been found to be highly carcinogenic. While its use in these chargers isn't necessarily a problem for the vehicle owner now, it's a big problem for people recycling or scrapping them at the end of their useful life.

The Volkswagen e-Golf was one of the vehicles to be sold with the charger in question.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Cadmium is so nasty that the German government has all but outlawed its use in vehicles. The chargers allegedly contain upwards of 0.008 grams of the metal which doesn't sound like much but the threshold for overexposure to the element is so low that even that small amount is enough to cause severe health problems.

According to MSN Autos, Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA), Germany's Federal Transport Authority is considering forcing a recall of the 124,000 chargers which came with the e-Golf, e-Up!, Golf GTE, Passat GTE and models as well as hybrid Audi and Porsche models.

Volkswagen did not immediately respond to requests for comment except to say that this situation didn't apply to US-market cars.

Updated 8/15/18 9:17 A.M. PT: Updated to include manufacturer statement that chargers were not included in US cars.