NHTSA investigates LG batteries behind EV recalls for GM, Hyundai, others


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is opening a review of defective batteries produced by LG Energy Solution that have been the cause of several large recalls, Reuters reported Tuesday.

General Motors, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis, and Volkswagen began issuing recalls related to LG batteries in 2020. The NHTSA review, which covers 138,324 vehicles, aims to ensure that all defective batteries have been recalled by the automakers, the report said.

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

Among the recalls the agency plans to follow up on were GM recalls of Chevrolet Bolt EV models due to fire risks. The issue, eventually traced to a manufacturing defect, prompted the automaker to halt sales and production in August 2021—and engage in a complex remedy.

After understanding the defect, GM opted to replace all battery cell modules in affected Bolt EVs—which amounts to all 2017-2019 models. LG is paying GM nearly $2 billion for the Bolt EV recall issue.

In a similar issue—although one never confirmed as being directly related—Hyundai opted to replace entire battery packs for its Kona Electric. Other automakers have undertaken smaller recalls cited by the NHTSA in its rationale for conducting a review, according to Reuters, adding that an LG spokesperson said the company plans to cooperate with the NHTSA.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV and EV production starts

This follow-up to already-underway recalls is appropriate, Michael Brooks, acting executive director for the Center for Auto Safety, a safety advocacy group, said in an interview with Bloomberg. It should help avoid a situation similar to the recall of defective Takata airbags, he said. Many cars with defective airbags slipped through the initial round of Takata recalls.

Despite the Bolt EV recall, GM is sticking with LG and the same battery-cell format going forward. the automaker has opted for large-format pouch cells for its joint-venture battery production for the Ultium propulsion family.

Cylindrical cells have been shown to be less prone to these kinds of defects—or at least the kind that might warrant a large-scale recall. And yet other than Tesla, Lucid, Rivian, and a few other EV-exclusive brands, most others have opted for prismatic or pouch cells.


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