This article was written by Paul A. Eisenstein for TheDetroitBureau.com
DETROIT, MI (04.08.22) – Federal regulators have launched an investigation involving battery fires and other problems that have forced the recall of nearly 140,000 vehicles built by five different automakers.
The common thread is the use of lithium-ion batteries produced by South Korean supplier LG Energy Solution.
“We understand NHTSA’s latest request is a follow-up procedure to determine if the same or similar batteries involved in the recalls were supplied to other OEMs,” the battery manufacturer said in a statement. “LG Energy Solution will fully cooperate with the inquiry.”
The auto industry is in the midst of a rapid transition from internal combustion engines to all-electric propulsion. But there has been growing concern about lithium-ion batteries over their risk of catching fire. That has led to a number of recalls in recent years by manufacturers including Ford, BMW and Tesla, currently the largest BEV manufacturer.
Feds now looking into problems
But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new probe is focused on LG Energy Solution. It has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of lithium technology, but has been involved in several troubling recalls.
Since February 2020, a total of 138,324 BEVs and hybrids using LGES batteries have been recalled due to problems that include unexpected stalling. The bigger concern is that faulty batteries can short out and catch fire.
That led General Motors to temporarily halt production of its Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV models late last year while recalling all models already on the road. It has been replacing their battery packs with newer ones deemed to be at lower risk of catching fire. GM only resumed production of the two Bolt models this week, also using newer batteries.
Along with GM, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis and Volkswagen have ordered recalls involving LG Energy Solution batteries during the past 26 months.