South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Wednesday ordered Hyundai Motor to voluntarily recall all its Kona EV units that use batteries manufactured by LG Energy Solution.
In total, 26,699 units will be affected by the recall, including Ioniq electric SUV and electric buses.
Battery system assembly of all the affected models will be replaced.
The ministry point to LG Energy Solution’s defective batteries as the cause of the fires of Kona EV. Testing done on batteries collected from the fires by Korea Transportation Safety Authority, a sub agency, showed that misalignment within cathode tabs inside the batteries could have been the cause, the ministry said.
LG Energy Solution strongly denied the ministry’s conclusion, saying its own reenactment tests didn’t cause any fire. LG claimed that Hyundai Motor’s misapplication of fast charging logic in the battery management system is the more likely cause of the fires.
Previously, Hyundai Motor had claimed that defective separators inside the batteries could have been the cause of the fires.
The ministry said it was aware of the misapplication of the charging logic that happened after the BMS on Kona EV were updated in March. However, it said it was difficult to judge whether there was meaningful difference between the logic applied correctly or incorrectly which could be connected to the fires. The ministry is planning to conduct further testing to see whether there was lithium by-products made during fast charging that could be linked to the fires.
The ministry also ruled out separator defects for now as the cause as it was conducting tests on battery cells with the problem but so far there has been no fires.
Hyundai and LG will likely continue to fight over the cause of the fires as they need to decide who will shoulder more of the expected cost from the recall, which is expected to be over 1 trillion won. The ministry is also conducting further testing and the results may change opinions on which company was more responsible.
Multiple companies are involved in the calculation of how to divide the cost __ there is HL Green Power, a battery pack making joint venture between Hyundai and LG Chem, Hyundai Mobis, which assembles battery packs and Hyundai Kefico, which manufactures the battery management system.
Hyundai is now in a more favorable position in negotiations for the recall bill as the ministry has pointed to battery cells as the cause of the fires, a person familiar with the matter said. LG Energy Solution will need to resolve its issue with other overseas automobile makers that have also suffered from fires in their car models.
LG Energy Solution said it will put consumer safety first and actively collaborate with the ministry and Hyundai for the recall to go smoothly.