We were waiting for Hyundai to talk about the LG Energy Solution (LGES) statement on Kona Electric fires for a while, but now InsideEVs and Motor1.com have an official explanation for them. According to Hyundai, it was indeed a folded anode tab in the batteries that caused the fires. Remember that these folded anode tabs could also be on the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which uses LG Energy Solution cells and also experienced fires recently.
Hyundai told InsideEVs that the investigation led by MOLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport) in South Korea pointed that the folded anode tab “could allow the lithium plating on the anode tab to contact the cathode, resulting in an electrical short.” It’s this electrical short that would cause the fires. All the defective cells came from LGES’s plant in Nanjing.
LG Energy Solution denied that this was the fire's cause and said the tests could not replicate the issue. It also said that it was waiting for the official test results from MOLIT. Apparently, Hyundai got them before LGES.
Hyundai also confirmed that the Ioniq 5 will use SK Innovation cells in its battery pack, making the dispute between SK Innovation and LGES even more relevant. The latest we heard about that is that Joe Biden will revise the ITC ruling that banned SK Innovation for ten years due to theft of commercial secrets.
Depending on what Biden decides, the SK Innovation plant in Georgia could be forced to shut down. The company has invested $2.6 billion to produce cells for automotive plants in the US. At least two vehicles could be affected by the ruling: the Ford F-150 EV and the VW ID.4. SK Innovation planned to invest a total of $5 billion until 2025 in its Georgia plant.
Regarding GM, we have contacted the company to learn if the Bolt EV cells also came from the Nanjing plant and if they also present the folded anode tabs. On February 22, GM denied the cells were the same because their separator was different. There was a rumour that the separator was the cause of the defect, which now we know was not true.