According to reports, the sales of electric vehicles have been boosted due to the global promotion of stricter emission controls. However, after continuous battery overheating and fire accidents around the world, electric vehicles and car manufacturers are facing huge challenges.
In the past two years, a total of 16 Kona EVs have caught fire in South Korea, Canada, and Europe. After that, Hyundai Motor Co. announced an expansion of the recall to cover at least 74,000 vehicles sold in South Korea, the United States, Europe, and Canada. Kona EV was released to update its battery management system. Kona EV is Hyundai's best-selling electric vehicle.
Jang Kyung-tae, a member of the Ministry of Transport of South Korea, revealed that about 23,000 Kona EVs on the Korean market have completed software upgrades, and 800 of them have been detected to have battery defects and need to replace the affected modules.
In October of this year, Hyundai stated in a document submitted to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) that the internal damage of lithium-ion batteries increases the risk of short circuits. LG Chem, which supplies batteries to Hyundai, denied that the battery cells were defective and stated that they are investigating the cause of the fire together with Hyundai.
General Motors said last week that after reporting five fires and two minor injuries, the company will recall close to 69,000 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles that are at risk of fire.
The company said that when the vehicle battery is fully or nearly fully charged, it may cause a fire. All affected vehicles will receive a software upgrade to control the maximum battery charge at 90%.
In October of this year, NHTSA launched an investigation into the Chevrolet Bolt electric car. Before this time, a total of 3 Bolts caught fire in a stopped state, and the fire position was under the seat. The survey is for the 2017-2020 Bolt electric vehicles, a total of 77,842 vehicles. LG Chem is also a battery supplier for Chevrolet Bolt.
In September of this year, Ford Motor Company recalled 20,500 Kuga plug-in hybrid vehicles in Europe and suspended sales due to the risk of battery fire. Before the recall was initiated, there had been 7 vehicle fire incidents, but no injuries were caused.
Ford proposed to replace the entire battery pack for the car owner, and said that the root cause of the fire has been identified as the supplier’s battery cell pollution problem during the production process, which may cause "serious consequences."
The suspension of Kuga sales caused Ford to fail to meet its 2020 European emission reduction targets, so it had to buy points from other car companies to avoid huge fines. The company also postponed the plug-in hybrid Escape SUV produced in the United States until next year. The car uses the same battery as the Kuga. Ford’s battery supplier is Samsung SDI.
BMW previously stated that it would recall 4509 plug-in hybrid models in the United States, saying that its battery supplier had debris in the battery during the production process. BMW's battery supplier is also Samsung SDI. BMW claims that this defect may cause a short circuit and battery thermal runaway, which increases the risk of injury, and recommends that car owners not charge the vehicle for the time being.
Globally, BMW has recalled approximately 26,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles due to potential battery fire risks. The recalls are mainly concentrated in Europe.
A Samsung SDI spokesperson said that the cause of the battery fire is currently under investigation and he declined to disclose further information.
Last year, NHTSA said it was investigating potential defects in certain Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles, which could cause the battery pack to catch fire without being hit.
Last year, a number of car owners initiated a class action lawsuit against Tesla, and their lawyers subsequently initiated a petition, hoping that NHTSA would initiate an investigation against the electric car manufacturer. These car owners claim that Tesla has limited the available battery capacity of older cars through software updates, thereby shortening the vehicle's cruising range and avoiding costly recalls to repair battery defects.
Japanese battery manufacturer Panasonic supplies battery cells for Tesla, and Tesla itself encapsulates these battery cells into battery packs.