The recall will cost Hyundai 1 trillion Korean won, or $900 million. On a per-vehicle basis, the average cost is $11,000 — an astronomically high number for a recall.
Replacing an entire battery is an extreme measure, requiring a similar amount of work and expense as replacing an entire engine of a traditional internal combustion-powered car. Very few recalls of gasoline powered cars require an entire engine to be replaced. One of the few exceptions was a 2014 recall of 785 of the Porsche 911 GT3 sports cars. Porsche did not release the cost of that recall, but it was certainly more expensive on a per-vehicle basis than this Hyundai recall.
Still, a recall costing more than $11,000 per vehicle is extremely rare. Precise figures are not available because most automakers do not disclose the cost of their recalls.
“Overall, battery safety and durability will be increasingly important if auto companies want to avoid some of the large battery-recall costs that have befallen the consumer-electronics industry,” he said.
The cost of Hyundai’s recall is another indication of just how expensive EV batteries are relative to the cost of the entire car. Until the cost of batteries comes down, through greater production worldwide and economies of scale, the cost of making electric vehicles will remain higher than comparable gasoline cars.
The fewer parts on the EVs could also mean that recalls should be less common than for internal combustion-powered cars. But in the near term, there could be significant costs if battery fire problems require battery replacements.
Hyundai said an investigation into the fires showed the cars’ defective LG-made battery cells could short circuit.
The recall also covers the Ioniq EV, and Elec City vehicles in South Korea. The recall includes 27,000 Korean vehicles and 55,000 elsewhere in the world.
GM is not replacing the batteries in the 68,000 Bolts being recalled globally. Of that total, nearly 51,000 are in the United States. While the automaker isn’t saying how its problem will be addressed, it is likely to be handled with a software update.
Hyundai said it is still in talks with battery supplier LG Energy Solutions to determine which company will be responsible for the cost. The Korean Transport ministry seemed to blame LG for the fire problems in its statement on the recall, attributing them to a misaligned battery cell.
But LG’s statement, which said it will cooperate with the Korean Transport Ministry’s ongoing investigation, denied that was the reason for the fires.
“The fire was not recreated in the lab test, and the issue was an early mass production problem in Hyundai Motors dedicated line,” said LG’s statement. The company said it “will further strengthen safety in all processes from product plan to manufacture and inspection.”
— CNN’s Gaewon Bae contributed to this story