South Korea motoring giant is reportedly about to announce that it will replace the batteries of its main electric vehicle models – the Kona and the Ioniq – after a spate of battery fires.
According to reports in South Korea media, Hyundai has decided that a software fix has not fully addressed the problem, and will instead replace the LG batteries in all of its electric models, which also include the Elec City Bus.
According to Business Korea, and other local websites such as the Korea Times, an announcement had been expected on Friday or over the weekend, but has been delayed by an apparent dispute between Hyundai and LG over whether the recall should apply to vehicles sold in South Korea only, or across the globe.
Business Korea reported over the weekend that since its launch in 2018, the Kona EV has suffered a total of 15 fires — 11 in Korea and four overseas. Fires have also been reported in Ioniqs, and on February 15, in a Hyundai electric bus.
“Hyundai Motor has decided to replace the battery cells of its three electric vehicle models,” the Korea Times reported.
“Initially, the company considered replacing battery cells for Kona EVs only. But as fires broke out in other electric vehicle models powered by batteries from LG Energy Solution, the carmaker has decided to expand the recall.
“About 21,000 units of the IONIQ were sold in Korea alone. The carmaker has decided to include its electric bus in the recall as an Elec City bus caught fire on Feb. 15. It sold 263 units of the electric bus. Including the Kona EVs, the total number of vehicles subject to the recall will top 100,000.”
“Since October last year, Hyundai Motor has been recalling 77,000 Kona EVs across the world after a number of vehicles caught fire. More than 10,000 Ioniq EVs and 400 Elec City electric buses using the same battery, produced by LG Energy Solution, were included in the initial recall,” Korea Times notes.
“Hyundai Motor has been updating the battery management system (BMS) of the recalled vehicles, without defining the root cause of the fires.
“The carmaker decided to apply additional measures to the vehicles after a Kona EV caught fire in Daegu, January. 23, even after its BMS had been updated and an Elec City bus also burned in South Gyeongsang Province, Feb. 15. “
The Korea Times said the transport ministry said in October that it suspected potential manufacturing errors as the cause of the fires, but LGES flatly denied this, saying it and Hyundai had failed to replicate the same fires during review tests. Since then, the ministry has been continuing an investigation into the fires.
In Australia, a recall notice for the electric Kona was finally issued in early November, several weeks after the first recalls were issued in some international countries after a series of fire incidents with it batteries.
As noted on The Driven here, here and here, over the previous few weeks a recall program for the Hyundai Kona electric has been rolling out around the world, covering Korean-built Kona electrics using LG Chem cells manufactured up until March this year.
It is not clear whether the battery replacement plan will include Australia-based Kona and Ioniq EVs. The Driven has sought comment from Hyundai Australia.