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Volkswagen Recalls 10,000 ID.3 and ID.4 Units Due to Cell Defects
Volkswagen uses LG Energy Solution (LGES) cells in its ID family. After the Korean supplier had issues with the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Hyundai Kona Electric, it was a surprise that the electric cars from the German carmaker escaped them. To be fair, there is one documented fire with an ID.3 in Groningen, Netherlands. Volkswagen seems to be still investigating it. In the end, a new recall reveals the German automaker also had issues with its cells.

Volkswagen Recalls 10,000 ID.3 and ID.4 Units Due to Cell Defects

This is the icon affected VW ID.3 and ID.4 present when they have defective cellsVolkswagen ID.3 and ID.4 are involved in a recall of around 10,000 affected units for a cell manufacturing defectVolkswagen ID.3 and ID.4 are involved in a recall of around 10,000 affected units for a cell manufacturing defectVolkswagen MEB platformVolkswagen MEB platformVolkswagen MEB platformVolkswagen MEB platform
According to nextmove, Volkswagen distributed a memo to its dealers to tell them that some cells installed in the high-voltage battery pack of the ID.3 and ID.4 “of a limited production period (...) exhibit increased self-discharge due to a manufacturing defect.” The carmaker did not specify which manufacturing defect it is that makes the batteries lose charge.

According to Panasonic, self-discharge occurs when “a minuscule amount of the chemical substances inside the batteries reacts even without any connections between the electrodes.” It tends to happen more quickly at higher temperatures and is inevitable in most cells. Modern cells are designed to present minimal self-discharge. That means something happened to the LGES cells on the ID.3 and ID.4 to make that more pronounced.

In the cells used by the Hyundai Kona Electric, the defect was a misalignment caused by a folded anode tab. We have no idea if a folded anode tab can increase self-discharge or not, but we will try to find that out. The deal is that cells that are self-discharging more than they should “can lead to a reduction in battery capacity and thus to a reduction in the range of the vehicle.”

Volkswagen told nextmove that around 10,000 vehicles were affected worldwide – regardless of the size of the battery pack – and that 3,000 are in Germany. Eight of the ID.3 in nextmove’s fleet are involved in the recall. As you may recall, nextmove is a large EV rental car that also makes interesting videos about these vehicles.

According to the company, the VINs are between 14,000 and 17,000, which suggests early ID.3s and ID.4s are more subject to present the issue. The newest vehicle in their fleet to have the defective cells has a VIN in the 48,000 range.

Stefan Moeller said that the 58-kWh has 216 cells. More specifically, the nextmove CEO said each battery module has 24 cells, so the 216 cells in the 58-kWh battery pack for the ID.3 are divided into 9 modules. Volkswagen will inspect the vehicles with an electronic service tool and replace the defective modules. The service should take a working day.

There are many signs that there is something wrong. Moeller said they are noticeable either in the upper or lower range of the charge level. When you fully charge the car, and it loses 10% of charge without moving, that’s a red flag. If you are below 50% of charge, sudden changes in range may also happen. A nextmove customer said his car had 10% charge left, and it stopped responding to the accelerator pedal at 160 kph (100 mph).

The car just rolled for a bit. That gave the defective cells some juice, and the ID.3 started working again. The nextmove customer then carefully drove the vehicle to the nearest fast charger available. Another evident sign of issues is when the car shows this message: “Electrical system not working properly. Please visit a dealership.” The Twitter user atori (@atoriCrash) shared this message on January 10, 2022, which shows that the problem is not recent.

The German automaker said that it has been remotely monitoring the EVs that may present the condition and will contact their owners to go to a dealership to replace the modules with defective cells. For those who decided not to allow Volkswagen to monitor their cars, the company does not have their data but may estimate that they are involved depending on the VIN.

Christian Stadler, from the Battery Life YouTube channel, suggests these owners take their vehicles for an evaluation at their Volkswagen dealerships. We’d advise only those who experienced issues such as those Moeller described to do so, especially if they get the message stating the electrical system is not working properly, with the big exclamation mark over the vehicle icon.

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