Things started out well for the Hyundai Kona Electric. It’s a highly rated, affordable EV with lots of features and a decent driving range. Currently, it’s one of the few good alternatives to a Tesla. But then the fires started in 2019.
After a long investigation and plenty of customer complaints, it turns out that the battery cells made by LG Energy Solutions were the cause. The investigation said the fires were caused by a folded anode tab that “could allow the lithium plating on the anode tab to contact the cathode, resulting in an electrical short.”
The faulty battery cells caused a massive recall of 82,000 Hyundai EVs. A Battery Management System (BMS) update did not solve the problem completely, so the Korean automaker had no choice but to replace the entire battery pack. All of the defective cells came from LGES’s plant in Nanjing, China.
In case you’re wondering, the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 is using completely different battery cells from SK Innovation.
Because of all this, Hyundai decided to discontinue the Kona Electric locally in Korea. The more advanced Ioniq 5 will be the company’s focus instead.
Currently, there are no plans to discontinue the Kona Electric in the US or in other markets. The Kona Electric was recently refreshed for the US and European markets, so that might be the reason for not stopping production in those markets.
The recalls of course hurt sales. Hyundai said sales of the Kona Electric dropped 40 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV also had its own fires and a recall of 68,667 vehicles globally. Its battery cells were also produced by LGES but a “re-flashing” of the EV’s BMS is all that was needed.