Hyundai Motor is being sued over a range of battery fires in its electric vehicles (EVs), just as General Motor recalls almost 70,000 EVs with batteries from the same maker, LG Chem.
The owner of a Hyundai Kona EV, a South Korean civil servant who asked to be identified only by his surname Kim, is one of the 200 people who lodged a class-action lawsuit against Hyundai last week, seeking compensation for what they say is the decreased value of their EVs and other losses, Kim and two lawyers representing them informed Reuters.
The court filing is not available for public view.
Kim had initiated a petition drive to take legal action against the Seoul-based automaker after the same brand of EV caught fire in his neighbourhood, forcing about 20 residents to evacuate their homes.
One of the lawyers said they were initially seeking 8 million won ($7,200) per plaintiff but they could boost demand as the trial proceeds.
The plaintiffs want the automaker to replace the entire battery pack – the most expensive part of the vehicle – of their Kona EVs, not just update the software, as the company’s recall provides.
EV sales are increasing globally as the technology holds out the promise of cleaner transportation, with costs dropping and driving ranges increasing. But the emerging risk of fire from overheated batteries could set back the entire industry.
Recalls could mean reputational and also financial damage to Hyundai and other automakers, which are pushing into the EV market to meet stricter emissions regulations and to challenge market leader Tesla Inc. The problems could also dent consumer demand for EVs.