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Hyundai Recalls 82,000 Electric Cars After Reports of Battery Fires

Hyundai will issue an auto defect recall for 82,000 Kona electric cars worldwide to replace their batteries after 15 reports of fires involving the vehicles. According to a CNN Business news report, in spite of the relatively small number of cars involved, Hyundai’s recall is one of the most expensive in history signaling how electric car defects could prove very costly for automakers, at least in the near future.

The recall will cost Hyundai about $900 million, about $11,000 per vehicle, an extraordinarily high number for a recall. This is because replacing an entire car battery is an extreme measure, requiring a similar amount of work and expense as replacing an entire engine of a traditional fuel-powered vehicle. Very few recalls of gasoline-powered cars require an entire engine to be replaced.

Details of the Recall

The new recall comes after an investigation into a Kona Electric vehicle that caught fire in Korea in January, even though its battery management software had been updated as part of an earlier recall. According to a South Korean regulatory agency, the fire was likely caused by a manufacturing defect found in batteries produced at a specific LG Chem factory. Hyundai said most of the recalled vehicles will be Kona Electrics, although a small number of Ioniq Electric hatchbacks will also be included. Hyundai will notify owners shortly.

Chevrolet also is in the process of recalling nearly 51,000 Bolt EVs after reports of vehicle fires. Those vehicles also use batteries from LG Chem, although they were manufactured at a different factory than the batteries in the Hyundai vehicles. Hyundai said an investigation into the fires showed the cars’ defective LG-made battery cells could short circuit.

The Risk of Vehicle Fires

While Tesla also had a problem with battery fires earlier in its history, which was tied to road debris kicking up and damaging batteries. Most EV batteries are installed across the bottom of the car. Tesla fixed the problem by adding more shielding in the undercarriage to safeguard the batteries. Gasoline or diesel cars also pose fire risks mostly after crashes when drivers and passengers are still in the vehicle, which poses a significant safety threat.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective auto, you may be able to seek compensation for the injuries, damages, and losses you have suffered. An experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to provide you with more information regarding your legal rights and options.


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California Personal Injury Blog