Owners should expect a letter from Hyundai very soon.
It all started over a week ago when Hyundai decided to recall over 25,000 examples of the hot-selling Kona EV in its home market of South Korea. The reason? A battery fire risk. At the time, this recall was limited only to that country but according to The Korean Car Blog, that's about to change. The Hyundai Kona EV is now expected to be recalled in Europe, China, and North America. An additional 51,000 units are expected to be included, 11,137 of which are in the US and Canada.
At present, Hyundai is reportedly finalizing the recall's details with the necessary authorities, in our case the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
This is a voluntary recall and is expected to be announced soon, though no exact date is currently available. The exact cause of the battery fires remains unknown, but the sources claim the automaker suspects a short circuit as a result of faulty manufacturing of the high-voltage battery cells.
However, the supplier of the battery cells, LG Chem, says the cause of the fires is not related to its product, and the real cause is still a mystery that needs to be figured out. LG Chem recently performed a joint re-enactment experiment with Hyundai and the results showed no battery defects. To date, at least 16 cases involving Kona EVs catching fire have been documented globally. No injuries have been reported.
One such incident happened in South Korea while the subcompact crossover in question was parked in an underground parking garage. The only thing we know at this time about a potential fix is a software update for all affected vehicles in South Korea. Some Kona EVs will see their batteries replaced altogether.
It's important to understand this isn't some minor recall. Battery fires are a very serious thing and, to its credit, Hyundai is acting fast. All told, the recall could cost Hyundai around $520 million if the decision is made to replace the batteries in all 77,000 or so affected vehicles worldwide.