Hyundai Reportedly Using SK Batteries for Ioniq 5

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

We recently published an article about Hyundai’s upcoming Ioniq 5 EV and closed by suggesting it might be desirable that North America wouldn’t be the first to get them. If you read our post about the automaker’s current situation with supplier LG Chem, you may have already been able to guess why we feel this way. The manufacturer is looking down the barrel of an expensive recall relating to battery fires and EVs have a propensity to experience botched product launches. Considering the newness of the technology, some of that is to be expected. But that may not be the whole story.

News has begun circulating that Hyundai and Kia would begin sourcing more products from China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) and Korea’s SK Innovation. We’ve likewise seen reports coming out of Korea stating that the automaker had decided to install SK batteries in the Ioniq 5, presumably because the units it has already sold to Hyundai haven’t been implicated in any fire-related recalls.

While details on the arrangement are still a bit foggy, the manufacturer is reportedly proposing a tiered approach for new Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) products. According to The Elec, Hyundai has decided to use cells from SK Innovation and CATL after 2023 as part of its third product offensive for electrics.

From The Elec:

LG Energy Solution was not named as a vendor for the third volume. However, the company will supply batteries through its joint venture with Hyundai to be set up in Indonesia, people familiar with the matter said. These batteries will be used for Hyundai Ioniq 7

CATL will will supplying batteries for two models out of the three planned by Hyundai to launch after 2023. CATL was also the supplier of the second volume.

SK Innovation was the supplier for the first volume of E-GMP.

While that leaves LG with the brand’s existing BEVs, BusinessKorea recently claimed that SK would indeed be responsible for supplying the Ioniq 5. Hyundai may have stopped short of proclaiming LG Chem the culprit behind its battery woes, but it certainly seems disinterested in giving them future business. Even though the report reads as though someone from SK had a hand in writing it, the statistical analysis included is verifiable.

Just under 77,000 Kona EVs have been sold around the world, 65,000 of which were equipped with LG Chem batteries. According to SNE Research and Hyundai Motor’s own IR data, the number of electric vehicles equipped with SK Innovation’s batteries totaled 50,000 — which breaks down into about 38,000 Niro models and 12,000 Kona EVs (most of which ended up in Europe). But all the vehicles implicated in the official fire reports that led to the recall were equipped with LG hardware and blew up in South Korea. While that does leave out a few isolated Kona fires in other parts of the world, we haven’t been able to verify which battery packs they were using.

Regardless, the LG cells seem to be the ones having the worst luck. Even if these fires are ultimately the result of Hyundai’s inability to property install the batteries (as LG suggested), it’s still not surprising to see the company distancing itself from the supplier. Nobody likes being thrown under the bus after being forced to shell out hundreds of millions on a recall.

[Image: Hyundai]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 4 comments
  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Feb 25, 2021

    SCE to AUX: Are you OK?

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Feb 25, 2021

      Ha! I held out as long as possible, until you baited me. A story about Hyundai's future supply chain didn't resonate with me. The fact that Tesla's Fremont plant is partially shut down due to the chip shortage seems more relevant, but no story here about that yet.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Feb 25, 2021

    That actually looks really good, just enough wheel to opening gap to make people think it's an S/CUV, but low enough to make others think hatch or wagon, clever, clever!

  • FreedMike They're highly important to me, particularly for navigation.
  • Bill Wade No Android Auto, no car. How else would I listen to Radio Paradise. ;)
  • KOKing "One of the most interesting parts of this situation is that Stellantis, and by extension, the Chrysler Group, is increasingly considered a foreign company instead of a traditional American automaker."Does that mean Simca and Hillman are coming back?
  • Redapple2 34 yr in Michigan salt?
  • Mike-NB2 Zero. Not interested at all. I often don't have my phone with me, and if I do, I completely ignore it. Unless it were to catch fire, of course. But I'm old, so that has to be taken into account too.