Hyundai's poor service support buried my admiration towards my Kona EV | Team-BHP

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While I would greatly appreciate any pointers to escalate this matter. This post is more of a reality check: 12v Dc Fully Electric

Hyundai's poor service support buried my admiration towards my Kona EV | Team-BHP

Kindly bear with me as this post is going to be quite long & detailed. I guess a 4-month long ordeal, when detailed enough, can itself be an ordeal.

Unfortunately, though, the service entailing the vehicle ended up burying the admiration I had for it.

It started in July as an AC failure during DC Fast Charging (critical component for an actively cooled battery pack - Technical info at the end of the post).

As per the Hyundai service center at Thiruvananthapuram, it was as simple as “Compressor & Expansion Valve failure / replacement - a common issue with Kona”. Unfortunately, post the fix, the sound soon restarted indicating the replaced compressor had also failed (I was to later realize that this was a systemic failure on the part of the service center in diagnosing the issue and testing the fix - so bound to reoccur).

Another round of a so-called thorough diagnosis and careful repair work in September by their more experienced staff and EV expert in Kochi. As expected it recurred since the same procedure had been repeated albeit a bit "more carefully". But this time, the issue almost resurfaced with a vengeance, it was immediate and far worse than the last time they fixed it.

So after a lot of assurances, the vehicle is now taken away for a 3rd trial & error attempt in November. The vehicle has been sitting ducks at their service center for the last 3 weeks and communication reeks of unprofessionalism if not downright apathy (one message in SMS & WhatsApp of apology after calls inquiring about status).

Worst part is out of spite, I even refused their loaner car. I guess, the social stigma - an idle ICE in the parking (I am most probably not gonna drive it) after boasting about an EV in my family was enough to refuse their loaner ICE.

The entire saga has dragged now for more than 4 months, 3 failed Compressors and it has turned into “Something that they have not seen before” kind of an issue.

And all this while, my impression of their EV service, has kind of nosedived.

No other Service center will touch it as they are not allowed to open a job card for it. Not for pickup/drop, not for puncture, nothing, they just won’t accept the vehicle. So the customer is in trouble if they don’t have an EV-specific service center nearby and it becomes the customer’s responsibility to manage the pickup/drop to the service center. In my case, since I was in Chengannur, I now had the option to drive all the way to Thiruvananthapuram - 125 kms South or Kochi 125 kms North.

Their excuse was "they cannot extend this facility for such a long distance". So for me, it meant dropping off the vehicle, figuring out the 125km return trip without the vehicle (sometimes unplanned thanks to the negligence of the service center) and then going back the same distance to pick up the vehicle on a later date. Was aware of Bangalore dealers providing all these amnesties, especially for critical issues and it had registered as a red flag before giving it for service but then did not bother much.

While they were quite knowledgeable, their “EV Gyan” related to fault diagnosis, troubleshooting and “ignorance of customer” rubbed me the wrong way. It could have been dismissed simply as irritable, only if, this unfounded Gyan was not a baseline for their troubleshooting and testing.

Kona needs to be DC charged regularly (once a month) and not sporadically else the expansion valve gets stuck, blowing up the compressor.

Kona's BMS can automatically start the active cooling, operating the expansion valve, if the battery temperature is above 22degC and vehicle operation or charging requires temperature control. Could not find the exact algorithm/parameters.

I have seen “Battery Care”/ cooling kick in even when doing regen (highest regen with paddle shifters pulled).

The worst case scenario is in a cold environment if someone only relies on AC charging, then the only way battery temperature can go up is when we do DC fast charge.

I think the service center guys want to be on the safer side & issue a blanket statement to customers to do DC fast charging regularly every month, without explaining the facts.

AC fast charging and operating the cabin AC, in parallel, is equivalent to full load testing like a DC Fast charging session. A major failure from Hyundai’s end, as this testing mechanism masked the superficial diagnosis and the symptomatic fixes they had been doing without fixing the root cause.

As stated above, the actual threshold is not publicly declared by Hyundai but I think a low ambient temperature can prevent the active cooling from kicking in during AC charging. As in another Kona, the “Battery Care” consumption did not show any load under similar conditions and the Cabin AC load (in KW) remained the same as before charging had started.

Keep the ignition on while putting the fast charger otherwise it will affect the AC compressor. Do not put the car on the charger without turning on the ignition.

The manual clearly mentions “Before charging the battery, Switch Off the vehicle”. Moreover, if the BMS cannot trigger the active cooling then it would be a critical flaw.

Operate cabin AC while DC Fast Charging otherwise it will affect the AC compressor.

Technically this will save the compressor but will mask the underlying issue of a failed Battery cooling system.

In my case, during the DC Fast charging since I was having lunch (and not sitting inside the car operating the AC), the blocked, chiller circuit’s - expansion valve, led to compressor failure. If the cabin AC was operating the coolant would have been able to flow in the cabin AC circuit and the compressor would have been saved. But I may not have noticed the failure of battery cooling, only experiencing an unexplained throttling down of the DC Fast charging wattage.

While I do understand, that sometimes service entails unexpected delays. It was unacceptable that the personnel were insensitive to the fact that I was coming down a long distance and casually justified their oversight on the timeline for a planned repair.

During 1st service, even though I had specifically clarified that if there was any possibility of delay then I would prefer to do it sometime next week as I was hard-pressed for time. They promised same-day return, but on the day of the repair work, after opening up the car the delivery timeline was pushed to the next day as they now realized it would take longer than a day. (Was an unnerving red flag)

The concern was more about the effect it had on my schedule and the unplanned travel (on both the day of vehicle drop and pickup). This could have been completely avoided if the team had thought over the repair process, accounting for the worst-case scenario, and informed me accordingly, giving me also time to plan and schedule the pickup and drop conveniently.

Worst part was to put up with their drama of “helplessness” to arrange for a loaner vehicle.

The service team would not do a DC Fast Charge post the repair as they did not have a DC charger on their premises and it was beyond their scope of work, this spite of my willingness to pay for the additional service of doing DC charging. They would rather prefer that the customer travels down 125kms and then take the car for a DC fast charging themselves, just to verify it. And if it fails, then accept the service center’s apology and catch a train back home.

The only test being the doubtful “AC fast charging and operating the cabin AC in parallel” test and take their word that the problem was fixed.

This would be a brief summation of my experience with Hyundai EV Service, covering most of the applicable facts. I did try to refrain (or at least tried to minimize) from posting the behavioral or circumstantial aspects which had made the entire ordeal a miserable one.

The following portion is for all of the technically curious folks.

Kona has a slightly unique AC chiller system in the way it splits the Battery cooling and the cabin AC as shown in this diagram.

So there can be a scenario where the cabin AC works perfectly as it sees regular operation but the battery circuit can go defunct due to disuse. This scenario could basically be due to prolonged periods of non-operation in cool ambient conditions paired with either:

The obstruction in the second circuit, which feeds the Battery chiller causes the compressor to fail. As per the service personnel, it usually occurs due to the battery chiller’s expansion valve getting blocked due to disuse.

While the first-time mistake could be understood as it was a judgement solely based on their experience, the second time ideally they should have flushed the system and verified for any other blocks or at least a DC charging to verify before handing the vehicle back. The compressor literally blew within 15 minutes of starting the DC charging.

The worst part of it -this was the 2nd time. I was supposed to check myself and would have, if not for the circumstances. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. They alerted me quite late and I reached Kochi almost nearing closing time. Moreover, Kochi received one of the heaviest rains on 4th November, Saturday evening (officially recorded). I was soaked to the bones as I went to pick up the car.

Irked at their testing prowess, I decided to take it for testing myself at the nearest DCFC station with the intention of returning the car if it failed. The moment I entered the road I realized that the roads had turned to rivers and the traffic was crawling (15kms in 2+ hours). So the DCFCs enroute were either impossible to access due to traffic, rain (no shelter at the charger) or outright flooding and the dealership had already closed. Frustrated & exhausted (actually was already feverish), I just headed home to test it the next day (Sunday-holiday). I guess the fever saved the service personnel as by Monday I was not even able to vent my anger.

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Hyundai's poor service support buried my admiration towards my Kona EV | Team-BHP

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