No, GM: it was not the cell separator.
Something is missing on the mega Hyundai battery pack recall that involves the Kona Electric and the Ioniq Electric. Despite knowing it affects 81,701 electric vehicles, the explanation that it was caused by “defective manufacturing in some of the battery cells produced by LGES at its Nanjing, China Plant” is not enough. LG Energy Solution (LGES) decided to clarify that on its own terms.
Pointed by Hyundai as the main responsible for the recall, LGES released a statement that clearly points to the fires’ suspected cause: a misalignment inside the battery cell. Said misalignment would be the folded anode tab and would have nothing to do with cell separators, as previous rumors said.
General Motors seized that very rumor to try to detach the Chevy Bolt EV’s fires from those seen in the Kona Electric. Both vehicles use cells from LGES. Nonetheless, GM claimed the Bolt did not have the same cells because the separators were different. That puts GM back into the eye of the storm.
LGES goes further than that. The company states that the folded anode tab issue was discovered in the early production stages at the Nanjing plant and has already been corrected. Regardless of that, no reproduction experiment focusing on that anode tab would have managed to replicate the battery pack fires. In other words, and despite what Hyundai claims, it would not be the true cause for the blazes.
Finally, LGES reinforced a “misapplication of the BMS charging map” was caused by Hyundai because of “their incorrect application of fast charging logic, proposed by LG Energy Solution, to the BMS.” However, the battery supplier does not blame that for the safety hazard. It just says it will cooperate “with the relevant authorities to discover whether this had any connection to the fire.”
Check the full release below:
“LG Energy Solution’s Statement on Kona EV Recall:
In connection with the additional implementation of the recent voluntary Kona EV recall, the investigation has not yet been completed. However, we will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport of the Republic of Korea and Hyundai Motors to ensure the recall is carried out smoothly with our highest priority on consumers’ safety.
The misalignment inside the battery cell (the folded anode tab) is cited as the reason for this recall, but it is hard to consider this as a direct cause since no fire occurred in the reproduction experiment as announced by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. Moreover, this problem was discovered in the early production stages of LG Energy Solution Nanjing plant’s Hyundai Motors-only production line, which has already been corrected.
In addition, it has been confirmed that Hyundai Motors’ misapplication of the BMS charging map was caused by their incorrect application of fast charging logic, proposed by LG Energy Solution, to the BMS. We will be cooperating with the relevant authorities to discover whether this had any connection to the fire.
LG Energy Solution is fully committed to further enhancing the safety in all processes, from product design to manufacturing and inspection.
Furthermore, the damage to the separator, which was proposed as a possible cause of the fire last October, has since been confirmed as unrelated by simulation test conducted by a joint investigation team.”
As you can see, LGES is not willing to take the blame without the official investigation results conducted by the MOLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport of the Republic of Korea). While the real cause is not identified and reproduced in the laboratory – confirming it really is to blame – LGES will keep fighting for its reputation.
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