In February 2021, Hyundai announced a massive recall for the Kona Electric covering 82,000 cars around the world, stemming from risk of fire. Reports pegged the total cost to Hyundai at $900 million — still shy of the $1 billion-plus General Motors spent to fix every fire-prone Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV. The commonality between the two brands’ EVs? They both used batteries manufactured by LG Energy Solution.
It’d been a while since we heard of a Kona fire, which is a good thing. Radio Canada, by way of InsideEVs, reported one such incident in Quebec City on August 31. The vehicle in question was parked in an underground garage when the flames began at 4 a.m. Fortunately that meant nobody was nearby, but the situation did complicate firefighters’ jobs. The garage had to first be ventilated, so first responders could access the burning Kona, before the Kona itself was dragged outside.
Radio Canada notes that the garage’s sprinkler system couldn’t tamp down the blaze, because the fire was believed to have originated from the battery pack at the floor of the crossover. Also, perhaps because electrical fires are hard to put out.
The garage was located under an eight-story apartment building, which had to be evacuated out of concern smoke could spread through the air ducts. Inhabitants were able to return at about 6 a.m., two hours after the fire started.
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We don’t know what model year this particular Kona was, which would tell us whether or not it would have been included in the recall. Even if it was, we don’t know whether its pack was replaced. Commenters on the Kona EV subreddit have seemingly identified it as a pre-2021 model based on styling details, which corresponds to the model years Hyundai recalled.
It’s also unclear if authorities merely suspect the fire started in the battery — based on previous experience — or are more certain. Alexandre Lajoie, spokesperson for the Quebec City fire department, told Radio Canada (via Google translate, mind) that “what we know with these vehicles is that the batteries can catch fire.” That strikes as a little presumptuous, especially because cars catch on fire like all the time, regardless of their propulsion systems. There are indeed many question marks, but the one certainty is that if you do have a Kona Electric, please get that battery swapped out if you haven’t already, just to be safe.