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EV defect claims multiply 46 times in 4 years

Hyundai Motor's Kona Electric (Yonhap)
Hyundai Motor's Kona Electric (Yonhap)
As environmentally-friendly vehicles grow in popularity, consumer claims of defects in their electric vehicles have multiplied in recent years, latest data shows.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Korea Transportation Safety Authority on Monday, the number of electric vehicles registered in the country is 131,923 as of November, a 12-fold increase from 10,855 at the end of 2016.

Complaints of faulty vehicle parts grew even faster during the period. A total of 275 such claims have been filed by consumers from January through November this year. That represents a 46-fold increase from just six cases in all of 2016.

As electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles are expected to gain a stronger foothold on roads here, in line with a national push for carbon neutrality, the surge in defect claims is worrying considering the lack of resources and personnel to properly look into and analyze the claims that could be critical to public safety.

The KTSA, which is in charge of vehicle inspections, has been reinforced after some 40 BMW vehicles caught on fire in 2018. But because the institute is largely focused on internal combustion engines, critics say more preparation is needed to deal with electric vehicles utilizing more advanced technologies.

It has also been pointed out that the reason for the delay in analyzing the causes of the recent fires in Hyundai Motor’s Kona Electric vehicles is due to the lack of test infrastructure, such as an explosion-proof laboratory.

The government has invested 39 billion won ($35.5 million) to build a environmentally-friendly vehicle part management center in Gwangju, the construction of which will be completed in October 2021.

South Korea aims to roll out 1.13 million electric vehicles and 200,000 fuel cell vehicles by 2025 as part of its “Green New Deal” initiative.

By Jo He-rim (