California residents have filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Hyundai equipped 2019–2020 Kona Electric and 2020 Ioniq Electric vehicles with defective battery systems and failed to offer repairs for the vehicles it recalled.
The battery problems put the vehicles at risk of bursting into flames. When Hyundai issued the recall, it offered interim software updates to the affected vehicles. The updates limited the battery’s charging capacity to 80%. Drivers were warned to park outside, away from flammable structures or objects.
The lawsuit said this has done little to remedy the problem. As it stands, the batteries face a risk of electrical short circuits, and the vehicles may catch fire while charging, parked or driving.
Hyundai had investigated at least 13 battery fires and issued a recall of 2019–2020 Hyundai Kona Electric vehicles in October 2020. Shortly after, Hyundai recalled 2020 Ioniq EVs for the same problem. In March 2021, Hyundai said the root cause of the fire risk was short circuits in the battery cells.
The lawsuit argues that Hyundai should refund all affected owners and lessees in California for the defective vehicles.
Hyundai says it is preparing to replace the battery system assemblies. The replacement batteries would have insulation coating that helps prevent electrical shorts and fires. However, Hyundai said that Kona EV or Ioniq EV drivers should notify dealers if they see warning lights.
The recall has been previously reported to potentially cost the automaker $900 million.