Cell fires at GM and Hyundai EV linked to several LG factories

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LG Chem’s logo can be seen in its office building in Seoul, South Korea. REUTERS / Kim Hong Ji

Aug. 27 (Reuters) – Shares of Korean battery maker LG Chem (051910.KS) fell to their nine-month low on Friday as investors digested information linking the General Motors Co fires (GM.N ) and Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS)) to LG batteries from at least two Asian factories.

Documents filed by GM and Hyundai with the US safety regulator show how the two automakers separately identified the same cause of battery fires in their most recent electric vehicles, attributing them to similar manufacturing defects in cells of battery manufactured in at least two factories operated by a unit of LG Chem.

“Together with our customer and partners, LG is actively working to ensure that recall measures are implemented smoothly,” an LG spokesperson said on Friday. “Reservations and cost / recall will be decided based on the outcome of the joint root cause investigation, currently held by GM, LG Electronics and LG Energy Solution.”

GM and Hyundai have linked the fires to lithium-ion battery cells supplied by LG Energy Solution, a subsidiary of LG Chem and one of the world’s largest battery manufacturers. The cells were produced at LG factories in South Korea and China.

In Korea, the drop in LG Chem shares reflected investor concerns about the multibillion-dollar cost of defective battery recall and how it could affect the company’s relationships with GM, Hyundai and others. Read more

LG supplies similar battery cells for electric vehicles to several car manufacturers, including Ford Motor Co (FN) and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE). Ford and VW have not reported similar issues with LG cells.

Last week, GM told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that experts from LG and GM on July 21 identified “two rare manufacturing defects in the same battery cell” as the cause of the battery fires in the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Read more

GM identified the flaws as a torn anode tab and a bent separator, and said the defective cells were produced at LG’s factory in Ochang, Korea.

After the tenth Bolt fire in Chandler, Ariz., GM said it discovered manufacturing defects in some cells “produced at LG’s manufacturing facilities beyond the Ochang plant.”

Last week, GM extended its recall of the Bolt to more than 140,000 vehicles to replace batteries, at an estimated cost of $ 1.8 billion. The automaker said it would seek a refund from LG – GM’s partner in the Ultium LLC battery joint venture in the United States. Read more

In a statement on Friday, LG said its share of the recall costs “will be decided based on the outcome of the joint root cause investigation.”

Hyundai said its investigators determined that a battery fire in a Kona EV – one of more than 15 such incidents in Korea, Europe and Canada – was caused by an internal short in a battery cell. Hyundai attributed the problem to a “bent anode tab”.

South Korea’s Transportation Ministry announced in February that it would recall Kona electric vehicles with battery cells made at LG’s factory in China. Read more

Hyundai has said it will spend nearly $ 900 million to replace LG batteries in some 82,000 electric vehicles around the world, including more than 75,000 Kona electric vehicles.

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit and Heekyong Yang in Seoul Editing by Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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