Hyundai apparently did the right thing when some Kona Electric units caught fire in South Korea, Canada, and Austria: it recognized the issue and recalled the cars. On January 23, a vehicle that had already received the repair – a software update – caught fire in Daegu. That made Korean authorities question if the recall was effective or not.
The main issue with Hyundai's safety campaign is that it does not replace the defective battery packs. Officially, the company is not doing that because it could see nothing wrong with these components, as it said about its investigation on the Canadian fire. Rumor has it the company is also avoiding that due to the massive costs involved.
Although Hyundai still does not know what may be causing the fires, the proposed repair was apparently not enough to prevent new fire episodes. This is what KTR (Korea Testing & Research Institute) – the organization in charge of fire investigations – is now trying to figure out.
Curiously, the Chevrolet Bolt EV has the same battery pack supplier: LG Energy Solution, previously called LG Chem. GM also recalled the model due to battery fires. Still, the two companies treat the situation differently: while Hyundai is applying the software update apparently as a final fix, it is only a temporary solution in GM’s case.
Bolt EV owners such as David Baker are not happy about the situation. Baker got in touch with InsideEVs to complain that GM has to offer a definitive repair so that the car stops depreciating.
“Right before the recall, I was looking to sell my car because I'm not really using it much and it's not economical for me to keep paying for it. Since this recall hit, my Bolt is basically worth next to nothing. It killed the used Bolt market here almost overnight.”
The COVID-19 pandemic killed the need Baker had for the car, but he can neither get rid of it nor installments associated with it every month.
“I can’t sell my car for a fair price. Dealerships are turning me away. Used car places are passing on it. Even those places that buy junk cars don't want it. I have a voicemail message from one of these places saying: ‘We will pass on the Bolt. Hope you get your money back from GM.’”
While nobody in GM, Hyundai, or LG Energy Solution seems to have any idea why the battery packs are catching fire, consumers are not in the position to be understanding. In South Korea, Hyundai is already facing a class-action due to the same concern Baker has: a steep depreciation of their cars.
“I'm beyond disappointed with GM and how they are handling this mistake they caused. I know they didn't mean for the battery to be faulty but at least own up to it.”
To protect these companies’ reputations when it comes to EVs, they would better figure out as soon as possible what is the origin of the issue. LG Energy Solution is probably the one that more urgently needs those answers being the common element in both recalls.