Back in October, we told you that Hyundai planned to recall more than 76,000 Kona Electric SUVs around the world, including 4,375 in Canada, over battery cell fire risks. Fifteen cases have been reported so far, including two in Canada.
According to Reuters, the Korean automaker has finally agreed to replace the high-voltage battery on all affected units globally (manufactured between 2018 and 2020), as well as some IONIQ sedans and Elec City buses—a decision that will cost over $1 billion.
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Apparently, there could be problems with the battery that cannot be detected by the battery management system. As a result, the battery could short circuit after it is fully charged.
In many cases, Hyundai simply updated the battery management system software to better detect battery problems. However, it’s not always enough. At least one of the recalled Kona EVs caught fire in January.
Hyundai now will systematically replace the battery as a precaution. In the meantime, owners are advised to park their vehicle outdoors and away from other vehicles or buildings. They should also limit battery charging to 90 percent of capacity until the battery has been replaced.
According to LG Chem, which supplies batteries for the Kona Electric, faulty battery cells were not the cause of the fires because a re-enactment experiment conducted jointly with Hyundai did not lead to a fire. Rather, it alleged in a statement that Hyundai misapplied LG's recommendations for fast-charging logic in the battery management system.
South Korea's transport ministry has launched its own investigation and found a few defects in some battery cells produced at LG Chem’s China factory. A final report will follow at a later date.
Incidentally, the all-new Hyundai IONIQ 5 crossover unveiled this week will use batteries manufactured by SK Innovation.