Hyundai will replace the batteries in 75,680 Kona EVs and 82,000 electric vehicles in total at a cost of around 1 trillion won ($900 million), according to Korean regulators and Yonhap. The announcement comes after Hyundai recalled the Kona EV in South Korea and North America following 14 fires related to batteries manufactured by LG Chem. "Our priority is to dispel potential risks against customer safety despite the low possibility of fires and high financial burden," Hyundai said in a statement.
Following the initial recall, Hyundai upgraded the Kona's battery management system to limit maximum charging to 90 percent. However, a vehicle that received the update caught fire in South Korea last month, according to Reuters. That prompted an investigation by Korean officials into the recall itself.
Korea's Transport Ministry determined that the upgrade did prevent overcharging, but failed to resolve the problem. In a report, it stated that fires may occur due to "poor alignment inside the cell," but is still investigating potential causes. LG Chem refuted any blame, but said it would continue to work with the Ministry to determine the cause of the fires.
The recall may the most expensive ever for EVs and comes at a bad time for Hyundai, which just boosted its commitment to EVs with the launch of the striking Ioniq 5. Meanwhile, GM recently recalled nearly 69,000 Bolt EVs to identify the causes of five battery fires between 2017 and 2019. The cells in those vehicles were also made by LG Chem, and GM similarly updated its battery software to reduce charging to 90 percent.
Hyundai Motor Company has decided to voluntarily recall certain Kona Electric, Ioniq EV, and Elec City vehicles in Korea for full battery (BSA: battery system assembly) replacements. The decision reflects findings from an investigation led by the Korean government, which has revealed the possibility of short circuits in certain defective battery cells produced in LG Energy Solution’s Nanjing plant leading to fires.
Actions will be taken promptly to prevent any customer inconvenience and the company will continue placing its utmost priority on the safety of its customers. Similar announcements will be made for affected vehicles in other markets, in compliance with local regulations and guidelines.