Recall Alert: Hyundai Has a $900 Million Electric Battery Problem

Fresh off the presses, we have another recall alert! There makes quite a few this week. Anyways, Hyundai Motors is struggling with a $900 million electric battery problem. This mainly affects the Hyundai Kona EV and Iconiq EV because they could burst into flames. 

Recall alert for the Hyundai Kona and Iconiq EV

This recall is a follow-up to a recall that took place just a few months ago when the Hyundai Kona needed a software update after a few models spontaneously caught on fire. About $38.9 billion was spent on the first recall, but the vehicles are still facing problems.

Hyundai Kona Hybrid compact crossover suv on display at Brussels Expo
The Hyundai Kona | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

Now nearly 100,000 electric Hyundai vehicles are at risk of catching fire due to electric battery pack issues. About 76,000 Kona EVs built between 2018 to 2020, Iconiq EV models, and Elec City buses are at risk. 

So far, there have been about 15 cases of fires involving the Hyundai Kona EV. Two caught fire in Canada, one went up in flames in Canada, another caught fire in Australia, and 11 ignited in South Korea. 

Who is to blame for the Kona EV problems? 

According to Reuters, Hyundai, and LG are splitting the $900 million cost of replacing battery systems in about 82,000 electric vehicles globally. This is the first time that an automaker will be replacing a mass amount of battery packs. 

How Hyundai handles this issue with the help of LG will set a precedent for how similar problems may be handled by other countries in the future. But LG Energy Solution, a division of LG Chem Ltd that manufactures the batteries, quickly deflected any criticism. 

LG stated that Hyundai misapplied its suggestions about fast-charging logic in the battery management system. According to LG, the battery cells shouldn’t be blamed as the direct cause of the fires. 

Hyundai hasn’t commented on the cause of the fires in the Hyundai Kona EV and other vehicles. However, South Korea’s transport ministry stated that battery cells produced at the LG Energy factory in China have had defects. They are currently looking into the cause of the fires but haven’t completed their probe. 

Despite the two companies disagreeing over the cause of the fires, Hyundai shared that an agreement on how to split the costs could be made next week, But first, Hyundai will wait for the results of the transport ministry’s probe. 

What if your Kona EV is at risk? 

If your Hyundai Kona EV or Iconiq is at risk, Hyundai and LG will replace your batteries for free. This comes after upgrading the battery management software failed to correct the issue. In the meantime, Hyundai suggests only charging your vehicle to 90% until your battery pack has been replaced. 

2021 Hyundai Kona parked in sand
2021 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai

How Safe Is the Hyundai Kona?

Hopefully, their research will help other automakers avoid making similar mistakes. According to Financial Times, General Motors, Ford, and BMW have made similar recalls due to fire risks. In November, GM recalled about 69,000 Chevy Bolt electric vehicles worldwide due to fires. 

Because GM has a similar problem, Hyundai’s decision may influence who should be held responsible. Are the EV auto manufacturers or battery producers to blame for these fires? Either way, the issue needs to be solved to improve safety.