Fred Lambert Oct. 12th 2020 6:08 am ET
Hyundai is reportedly preparing to recall 77,000 Kona electric cars worldwide over the risk of a battery fire as the automaker is fighting with LG Chem, the battery supplier, over the cause.
Last summer, a Hyundai Kona EV burst out into flames inside a garage near Montreal in Canada.
Since then, there have been about a dozen more Kona EV fires — prompting investigations into the matter.
In an official investigation into the issue in Korea, Hyundai claimed to have found the problem (via Korea Times):
“During the National Assembly audit on Thursday, Hyundai Motor President Seo Bo-shin, who is in charge of quality control, said the company “admits the defects in vehicles” and “has found a solution” to fix the defects, “though it is not perfect.””
However, different reports are coming to different conclusions.
One is putting the blame on the battery cells while another is concluding that it has to do with the battery pack:
“The ministry said it found “the separator in the battery cell was damaged due to errors in the manufacturing process,” indicating LG Chem’s battery cell could be the cause of fires. The National Forensic Service also came up with a similar conclusion that “electric problems in battery pack assembly” are assumed to have caused the fires.”
The Kona EV’s battery pack is made by HL Green Power; a joint venture of Hyundai Mobis and LG Chem, where the latter produces the battery cells and the former assembles the battery packs.
LG Chem denies that the cause could be the battery cells.
Hyundai already confirmed a voluntary recall of over 25,000 Kona EVs in Korea and the recall is now expected to be extended to over 77,000. electric vehicles worldwide, including in North America, most of the vehicles are in Europe.
Kona EV owners should stay tuned for an official announcement through NHTSA.
There’s no statistical evidence that shows electric vehicles catching on fire at a higher rate than gasoline-powered vehicles. There are over 200,000 gasoline-vehicle fires reported every year in the US alone.
However, since electric vehicles represent an emerging technology, there’s an abundance of caution around the technology and a lot of interest when incidents like those happen.