Hyundai reviewing whether to expand electric car recall globally

A Hyundai Kona Electric at the 41st Bangkok International Motor Show on July 14, 2020.
A Hyundai Kona Electric at the 41st Bangkok International Motor Show on July 14, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • Hyundai Motor is reviewing whether to expand a recall of its Kona electric vehicle (EV) globally following multiple reports of battery fires.

The South Korean automaker said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that it was in the final stages of filing a recall notice with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and was considering expanding the voluntary recall worldwide.

The issue comes as Hyundai bids for a greater share of the market for fuel-free cars. Other EV makers, including Tesla, Porsche, NIO and Audi, have also had recalls and investigations in the past due to potential fire risks with their vehicles.

Hyundai said it "is investigating if Kona Electric with overseas specifications requires a safety recall, and will announce recalls regionally or by a country, working closely with the local authorities".

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported earlier yesterday that Hyundai will recall 77,000 Kona EVs worldwide. It cited industry insiders as saying the affected vehicles were produced between September 2017 and March this year.

The recall comes after 13 cases of Kona EVs catching fire have been reported since 2018, according to Yonhap. One of the incidents was in the South Korean city of Daegu, where a Kona vehicle parked in an underground lot caught fire.

Kona EVs will be recalled in South Korea beginning on Friday, affecting 25,564 vehicles.

The South Korean authorities said damage in a battery separator posed a fire risk, though battery supplier LG Chem denied there was a defect. LG said it is jointly investigating the cause of the fires with Hyundai.

Hyundai's shares fell as much as 2.5 per cent yesterday, while LG Chem dropped 2.89 per cent.

There are 226 Hyundai Kona Electric cars registered in Singapore - 200 by Grab, two taxis and 24 by individuals.

Tesla said an isolated battery fault caused a Model S to catch fire in a Shanghai parking lot last year. There have been reports of the same model catching fire in Hong Kong. In February this year, Porsche said one of its new Taycan electric cars caught fire in a garage of a US customer, while Audi last year recalled an EV sold in the US, citing risks of battery fire.

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  • Additional reporting by Christopher Tan
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2020, with the headline 'Hyundai reviewing whether to expand electric car recall globally'. Print Edition | Subscribe