The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a recall for the 2019-2020 Hyundai Kona and 2020 Hyundai Ioniq electric vehicles after more than a dozen battery fires were reported. The agency also warns owners about parking their vehicles near their home or combustible construction.
An electrical short in the Kona’s lithium-ion battery cells increases the risk of fire during parking, charging and driving, NHTSA said, adding, “The safest place to park them is outside and away from homes and other structures.”
Last month, Hyundai announced it would recall approximately 76,000 Kona EVs built between 2018 and 2020 due to battery fire concerns. It was the second recall for the Kona, but the first to be global in nature. The carmaker also said it would recall some Ioniqs and electric buses it manufactures. In total, Hyundai said it would recall 82,000 vehicles, which will cost an estimated $ 900 million.
The Kona’s battery is produced by LG Energy Solutions, which, like Hyundai, is also based in South Korea. LG Chem is a major supplier of lithium-ion batteries to car manufacturers such as General Motors, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and their respective parent companies Volkswagen Group and Daimler.
Hyundai is the latest carmaker to initiate a voluntary recall due to faulty batteries. Last year, GM said it would recall nearly 69,000 Chevy Bolts, and Audi recalled more than 500 E-Tron SUVs, both due to the risk of battery fires. China’s Nio recalled nearly 5,000 of its ES8 electric SUVs after multiple reports of battery fires in 2019.
There is no evidence that electric vehicles catch fire at a rate different from combustion engine cars, but the topic has received more attention as more electric vehicles hit the road. First responders are even trained to deal with EV battery fires, as they cannot be extinguished through some traditional methods.
Tesla’s vehicle fires, in particular, have attracted a lot of attention – to the point CEO Elon Musk has publicly pushed back on the coverage of those incidentsOther car manufacturers, such as Jaguar, have seen it isolated fires along their electric cars.