LG Battery Problems Investigated By Feds

Safety regulators want to learn more about LG Chem batteries that seem to catch fire.

LG Battery Problems Investigated By Feds

Posted in Investigations

— LG Chem manufactures many batteries used by automakers for hybrid and electric vehicles that had to be recalled due to battery problems.

Some recalls were issued to prevent stalled vehicles and other recalls were necessary because vehicles were catching fire.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation, or what it calls an "equipment query," into LG battery problems that caused several vehicle recalls.

According to NHTSA, the first possible indication of danger from the batteries was an incident in February 2020 with a single 2019 smart fortwo electric drive car. The car was allegedly equipped with an LG battery that could catch fire from an electrical arc which could ignite inside the battery cells.

In an October 2020 Hyundai Kona electric vehicle recall, Hyundai said the LG batteries may cause fires because the batteries were built with damaged internal cells which increased the chance of an electrical short-circuit inside the LG lithium-ion batteries.

General Motors followed with a November 2020 Chevrolet Bolt recall caused by LG batteries that were catching fire when the vehicles were fully or nearly fully charged.

The Chevy Bolt battery recall was then expanded in August 2021 to include 2020-2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV and 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV vehicles. GM said two "rare" manufacturing defects had to be present for the battery to catch fire.

Next up was another Hyundai battery recall, this time for 2019-2020 Kona Electric and 2020 Ioniq Electric vehicles.

"Hyundai said, 'the vehicles are equipped with LG produced Lithium-ion battery cells where, if the Anode (Negative) tab is folded, the battery cell could allow the Lithium plating on the Anode tab to contact the Cathode resulting in an electrical short, thereby increasing the risk of a fire while parked, charging and/or driving.'" — Hyundai

Chrysler then joined the party with a February 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid recall following 12 fires. However, although the minivans were equipped with LG batteries, the automaker said it hadn't determined the root cause of the fires.

Volkswagen also ordered a recall for model year 2021 VW ID4 vehicles. The automaker told NHTSA the LG batteries may have faulty soldering points which cause faulty and unreliable connections.

Although battery fires weren't a symptom, VW said the ID4 vehicles could stall while driving.

NHTSA says it will contact LG Chem and other companies that may have used the high-voltage batteries to ensure all necessary recalls are conducted.