Hyundai issued a safety defect recall for the Kona Electric last year, which affected about 77,000 vehicles globally, after 16 of them caught fire. But, according to Jalopnik.com, yet another Kona EV went up in flames in South Korea while charging at a station in Daegu. The difference is that this particular car had already been recalled. This incident is now under investigation by the Korea Transportation Safety Authority. The agency will also assess the adequacy of the recall, officials said.
Rather than replacing the batteries as part of the recall, Hyundai only requires flashing new software onto the affected vehicles. Some cars do get new batteries if an inspection determines it to be necessary. The vehicle that burned in South Korea apparently got only the software changes.
Similarities Between Bolt and Kona Recalls
The recalled Kona EVs were made between 2017 and 2020. In November, General Motors recalled Chevy Bolts built between 2017 and 2019 after five of them caught fire when their batteries were nearly or fully charged. GM said at the time that it believed that the fires were possibly related to faulty batteries manufactured by LG Chem, now branded as LG Energy Solution, the company that also supplies batteries for the Kona EV.
GM told owners to engage certain modes or limit the car’s full charging capacity to reduce risk. The automaker also provided a software update while promising a more comprehensive update this year. So far, GM has not resorted to widespread battery replacement for the Bolt opting to solve the problem with software updates, just as Hyundai is doing.
The real question is if a battery issue can be fixed with better software. Based on Hyundai’s efforts and more reports of fires, the answer appears to be “no.” Hyundai is facing a class-action lawsuit from Kona EV owners in South Korea citing depreciation values in the wake of the recall in addition to safety concerns. Bolt owners in the United States filed a similar lawsuit in December.
Auto Product Liability Issues
There is no question that these vehicles present a significant danger to vehicle owners and their families. Hyundai and GM should do the right thing and provide a fix to consumers that will best solve this problem once and for all. Until they do that, vehicle owners and their families face the potential risk of a fire. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective auto, please contact an experienced auto defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.