— Hyundai Kona Electric fires have caused a recall of more than 11,000 SUVs following 13 fires that were allegedly started by electrical short circuits in the lithium-ion batteries when they were fully charged.
Hyundai is warning Kona Electric owners to park their SUVs outside and away from structures until the repairs are complete.
The 2019-2020 Hyundai Kona Electric SUVs have high-voltage battery systems with "electrical deficiencies" or damage to the lithium-ion battery cells. It's also possible the Kona Electric battery management system control software has problems that could increase the risk of an electrical short-circuit after fully charging the LG Chemical battery.
Although Hyundai has been investigating 13 Kona Electric fires since 2019, the automaker says it still doesn't know the "specific root cause" for the fires.
Hyundai received three Kona Electric fire reports from Korea between March and August 2019. All the Kona Electric fires occurred while the SUVs were parked, and all three vehicles had fully charged batteries.
A worldwide search for Kona Electric fires was performed and Hyundai found two similar Kona Electric fires in Canada and one in Europe, causing the automaker to open investigations with the Korea Automobile Testing & Research Institute and Transport Canada.
In March 2020, Hyundai launched a worldwide Kona Electric service campaign to upgrade the battery management system software for early detection of abnormalities in the battery while the vehicle is parked.
Hyundai says the software update was created with battery cell supplier LG Chemical to be used as a fail-safe “level-up” countermeasure while the fire investigation continues.
Between April and October 2020, seven more Hyundai Kona Electric fire reports were received about SUVs that were all parked, with six of the Kona Electric fires occurring in Korea and one fire reported in Europe.
Hyundai attempted to duplicate the conditions of the fires but failed. But engineers did confirm the battery management system software update could at least detect the early onset of an internal battery short-circuit by illuminating a warning light and limiting the Kona’s Electric power until the diagnostic code was cleared.
The Hyundai Kona Electric recall includes 6,707 SUVs in the U.S. and 4,375 in Canada.
The Hyundai Kona Electric recall is expected to begin December 11, 2020, when Hyundai dealerships will update the battery management system software and possibly replace the lithium-ion batteries.
Again, owners are warned to park their Kona Electric SUVs outside and away from all structures.
Concerned customers may call Hyundai at 855-371-9460. The Hyundai Kona Electric recall number is 196.