By on February 24, 2021

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]

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