By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. will replace batteries in over 25,000 Kona electric vehicles sold in the domestic market over fire risks, taking follow-up measures after a battery software update under an initial recall program, the transport ministry said Wednesday.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Hyundai Motor will recall 25,083 Kona EVs produced from September 2017 to July 2019 to replace their lithium-ion batteries manufactured by LG Energy Solution Ltd. starting from March 29.
The decision to replace batteries comes less than four months after Hyundai Motor recalled 77,000 units of Kona EVs following 14 battery-related fires at home and abroad.
The initial recall upgraded Kona's battery control system to limit the maximum charging rate to 90 percent, but it failed to brush off safety concerns after a vehicle that already received the software update caught fire in the southeastern city of Daegu last month.
The recall program will also include 1,314 IONIQ EVs and 302 Elec City buses equipped with batteries produced in LG Energy Solution's Nanjing factory in China, the ministry said.
The ministry said an interim investigation by the state-run Korea Automobile Testing & Research Institute (KATRI) found that Kona's battery fires were possibly caused by defects in its high-voltage battery cells.
The automaker and battery maker decided to replace the batteries with an upgraded system as the battery management system upgrade was insufficient to protect customers, the ministry said, noting it will release the final investigation results later.