With battery fires to blame.
The Hyundai Kona EV, once an extremely popular model dealers had difficulty keeping in stock, has been the subject of controversy for several months. Back in the summer of 2019, a Kona EV's battery caught on fire and nearly burned down its Canadian owner's house. Fast forward to last October when Hyundai decided to recall over 25,000 examples in South Korea. A similar recall was issued in the US last month for over 80,000 vehicles. And now it appears Hyundai is ready to toss in the Kona EV towel.
According to South Korean outlet Yonhap News Agency, the automaker has ended production of the Kona EV for the domestic market because of the ongoing recalls. It also wants to shift focus to the all-new Ioniq 5.
Hyundai will continue to sell off its South Korean market Kona EV stock and will continue to export them.
"The production of Kona EVs has been halted since March in consideration of the domestic demand and to realign the assembly line for new EVs," a company spokesperson said.
The writing has been on the wall for a few months regarding the EV's impending death. When refreshed versions of the gasoline and hybrid variants were revealed last year, conspicuously absent was the EV variant. Why invest in something that's on borrowed time? The damage to the Kona EV's reputation in South Korea has also been reflected in sales.
In the first quarter of this year, just 984 units were sold there, a 40 percent decrease from the same time the year prior. Overseas, Kona EV sales have dipped 17.9 percent year-over-year to just 7,428 units. Despite its relatively short lifespan, the Kona EV did its job, save for the whole battery fire risk thing. It proved a battery-electric can be affordable, fun to drive, and offer more than sufficient range to eliminate anxiety.
The Ioniq 5, however, was designed as an EV from the get-go and rides on the automaker's new e-GMP dedicated global electric vehicle platform. Let's hope lessons have since been learned regarding those batteries.