Following a series of Hyundai Motor's Kona electric vehicle (EV) battery fires, sales of EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEVs) from GM of the U.S. and BMW of Germany have been suspended due to fire risks. Secondary batteries produced by Korean companies are blamed for the fires in these cases.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is conducting a preliminary investigation into fires that involved GM's electric vehicle Chevrolet Volt EV, according to a Reuters report on Oct. 14. The investigation targets 77,842 units of the Chevrolet Volt EV produced from 2017 to 2020. In the three cases reported to the NHTSA, fires began on the rear seats and spread to the entire interior of the cars.
The NHTSA did not point the finger to the cars’ batteries as the cause of the fires but explained that the fires originated from the battery areas, suggesting that the fires had something to do with the batteries. All batteries for the Chevrolet Volt EV are supplied by LG Chem. The company manufactures the batteries at its Ochang plant in North Chungcheong Province in Korea and its Michigan plant in the United States.
BMW has also suspended PHEV sales and recalled 26,700 units due to fire risks. BMW said it advised customers not to charge batteries of their BMW cars for the time being because there is a risk of fire when charging them. The vehicles include SUV models — the X, 3, 5 and 7 Series and the Mini Countryman. BMW recalled about 1,800 units in Germany alone, and has decided not to sell 3,500 units it already produced.
BMW's EVs and PHEVs are mainly powered by Samsung SDI's batteries. Although China's CATL was added to its suppliers last year, Samsung SDI had exclusively supplied batteries to the German carmaker before it.
Prepared by the team of foreign office CzechTrade and CzechInvest Seoul