A Kona Electric of Hyundai Motor is burnt to a crisp at a parking lot located in Daegu early this month. Photo courtesy of Daegu Fire Department

Korean automaker strives to upgrade battery management system

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor said Monday that the Seoul-based automaker plans to recall more than 25,000 units of the fire-prone Kona Electric beginning this month.

The Kona Electric is the second best-selling electric car here, chasing only Tesla’s Model 3. In the world market, Hyundai has sold more than 100,000 Kona Electric since 2018.

But a dozen of reports popped up over the past years that the models caught fire. Two of them took place outside of Korea _ in Canada and Austria.

Things got worse this month as a Kona Electric burst into flames at a parking lot in Daegu. Hyundai made an official apology.

We plan to recall 25,564 units of the Kona Electric produced between Sept. 29, 2017, and March 13 this year. We plan to update the battery management system. Upon finding any signs of problems, we plan to replace the batteries,” a Hyundai Motor spokesman said.

In other countries, recalls would take place although details are not decided yet.”

Korea’s top automaker suspects that the batteries would be responsible for the fires. But the battery maker, LG Chem, does not agree. It came up with a statement opposing a premature conclusion.

LG Chem is the world’s foremost manufacturer of rechargeable batteries.

Experts point out that more investigation would shed light on the case.

LG Chem supplies batteries not only to the Kona Electric but also to many other electric vehicles. But the Kona Electric is involved in the controversies of getting fire,” a Korean university professor said.

Hyundai Motor and LG Chem would have to cooperate to find out what is causing the fire.”

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.