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Hyundai Motor to replace battery systems in costly electric car recall

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FILE PHOTO: The electric Hyundai Kona is seen during the media day of the 41st Bangkok International Motor Show in Thailand, July 14, 2020. REUTERS / Jorge Silva / File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) – Hyundai Motor Co will replace the battery systems of some 82,000 electric vehicles around the world due to fire hazards, an issue that, combined with an earlier recall, will likely cost the automaker $ 900 million.

Most of the latest recalls apply to its best-selling electric car, the Kona EV, which was first recalled in October for a software upgrade after a series of fires.

But in January, one of the recalled vehicles caught fire and South Korean authorities launched an investigation into whether the first recall was adequate.

LG Energy Solution, a division of LG Chem Ltd that manufactures the batteries, said in a statement that Hyundai Motor misapplied LG’s suggestion for fast charge logic in the Hyundais battery management system and that the battery cell should not be regarded as the direct cause of the fire hazards.

The new recall applies to approximately 76,000 Kona electric vehicles as well as certain Ioniq EV and Elec City models.

There have been around 15 fires involving the Kona EV-11 in South Korea, two in Canada and one each in Finland and Austria, according to the Transport Ministry.

Hyundai said in a statement that of the total estimated 1 trillion won in recall costs, some 38.9 billion won was due to the first recall.

Shares of Hyundai Motor and LG Chem were trading down 3.7% and 1.9% in the afternoon trading, respectively, compared to a 2% decline for the broader market.

($ 1 = 1,111.7900 won)

Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Joyce Lee; Edited by Edwina Gibbs

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