Hyundai Motor recalls Kona electric cars in South Korea due to fire risk

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Ministry of Transportation reported on Thursday that Hyundai Motor Co. is about to recall its Kona electric cars due to the possibility of a short circuit due to a defect in the manufacture of high-voltage battery cells that could pose a risk and cause of fires. The ministry also added in a statement that the recall is focused at software updates and battery replacement after inspections, which includes 25,564 Kona electric cars, starting from October 16th, that were manufactured between September 2017 and March 2020.

Hyundai said the recall “is a proactive response to the suspected defective production of high-voltage batteries used in vehicles, which may have contributed to the reported fires” adding that it will implement all necessary procedures to determine the cause of the fire and meet customer needs. Jang Kyung-tae said in a statement that about 13 fires related with Kona cars have been documented, including one in Canada and Austria.

The Kona uses batteries produced by LG Chemicals, which stated that the exact cause of the fire had not been identified and that the re-enactment experiment conducted with Hyundai did not result in a fire, so the fires cannot be attributed to defective battery cells. LG-Chem added in a statement that they will actively participate in the future investigation with Hyundai to find the cause.

Analysts reported that Hyundai’s shares fell 1.4%, as a result of investor concern about the recalls and the replacements of batteries could be costly, as the battery cost is about 30% of the car price. In contrast, shares of LG Chemicals rise 1.8%.

Kona Electric is the first electric sports vehicle produced in South Korea. In July, Hyundai Motor Group president Euisun Chung said Hyundai Motor Co. and sister-company Kia Motors aim to sell 1 million battery electric vehicles in 2025, targeting more than 10% of the global market share for such vehicles.

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