News from Hyundai this week centered around two major topics, and both of them involve electric vehicles. A day after officially pulling the wraps off its upcoming and striking Ioniq 5 electric car, the South Korean automaker announced that it would be recalling and replacing the battery packs of 82,000 previously sold electric vehicles globally due to fire risks. While it’s true that the vehicles being recalled aren’t related to the not-yet-released Ioniq 5, we reached out to Hyundai for a little more detail on the issues that led to a massive recall.
So far, there have been 15 reported fires involving the Kona EV, 11 of which were in South Korea. According to BusinessKorea, Hyundai used batteries sourced from both LG Energy Solutions and SK Innovation for its Kona EV. Around 65,000 Kona EVs were sold with LG batteries, while SK packs were in 12,000 Kona EVs and another 38,000 Kia Niro electric hatchbacks, which uses a similar powertrain to the Kona EV. All of the Kona EVs that have caught fire up to this point were equipped with batteries provided by LG.
Here’s the statement we received from Hyundai regarding the recall:
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.
Since Hyundai claims “the possibility of short circuits in certain defective battery cells produced in LG Energy Solution’s Nanjing plant” is the root cause of potential vehicle fires — LG, for its part, claims that Hyundai “misapplied” LG’s suggestions for fast-charging logic in the battery management system — it’s important to note that the Ioniq 5 will use cells from SK International, not LG. While we can’t predict the future, it seems unlikely that Hyundai will use LG Chem batteries on future vehicles based on its E-GMP platform, at least for the foreseeable future, and reports out of Korea support that likelihood.