SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — Electric vehicle (EV) battery producers in South Korea are growing anxious as Hyundai Motor Co. as well as foreign automakers are experiencing safety issues with EV batteries.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reportedly carrying out investigations into three fires caused by General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Bolt EV that was found to carry batteries produced by LG Chem Ltd., South Korea’s leading chemical company.
Hyundai Motor also decided to globally recall some 77,000 Kona EVs, carrying batteries by LG Chem, following a series of fire accidents.
Other automakers including BMW AG and Ford Motor Co. decided to recall several EV models that were found to carry batteries made by Samsung SDI.
An electric vehicle houses a variety of devices and systems including battery cells and battery packs, which is why battery producers argue that defects in the battery may not be the primary cause of recent fires.
“It has yet to be proven that these fires were caused by the batteries,” said a source familiar with the battery industry.
Batteries in general, including those used in EVs, face the chronic issue of overheating, which is why some experts look at the safety issues of batteries as a stepping stone for the fledgling EV industry.
Nevertheless, South Korean battery producers including LG Chem Samsung SDI Co., and SK Innovation Co. are bound to sustain a harder impact as they currently lead the global EV and battery market.
Strife between battery makers and car manufacturers over determining the cause of fires is also inevitable.
In the long term, disputes with automakers are a disadvantage to battery producers as automakers are aiming to produce batteries themselves.
“Even if it had nothing to do with the batteries, the fact that it came up as an issue is enough to drive away investors and leave a negative impression on consumers,” another source said.
“While current disputes might serve as an opportunity to better ensure battery safety, they will take a toll on the producers.”
H. M. Kang (email@example.com)