Kona takes the electric route
The automotive industry in Europe and beyond has been immersed with crossovers and SUVs in recent years, and it is a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Factor in the emergence of advanced technologies in connectivity, autonomy, and powertrains—and you end up with brand new niches popping up in this relatively new part of the market.
Hyundai has a relatively strong pedigree with its European SUVs, and last year entered the sub-compact SUV/crossover world with the Kona. Just prior to the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, it announced the Kona Electric and subsequently used the Swiss event to give the world the first chance to see the new model in all its glory.
The creation of the Kona Electric takes advantage of two major trends that are currently capturing the attention of consumers—battery power and crossovers. Joining an already strong Hyundai range of products that makes the most of advanced technology, the Kona Electric will fit in alongside the fuel-cell-powered version of the Nexo (formerly ix35) and the Ioniq, which is offered with a choice of conventional, hybrid, and electric powertrain.
For the battery-powered Kona, there is a choice of two powertrains. The long-range version uses a 64-kW·h battery and provides up to 292 mi (181 mi) of range; the basic model has a battery capacity of 39.2 kW·h, which is good for a range of up to 186 mi (116 mi). Both variants deliver 395 N·m (291 lb·ft) of immediate torque and boast a top speed of 167 km/h (104 mph).
Charging the Kona Electric’s lithium-ion polymer battery up to 80% takes under an hour with the use of a 100-kW direct current (DC) fast charger. With a 7.2-kW onboard-charger, charging takes 9 h, 40 min for the long-range battery pack and 6 h, 10 min for the shorter-range battery pack. Drivers also have the option of charging their car at a compatible regular household power socket using the ICCB (in-cable control box). The charging port is located at the vehicle’s front next to the Hyundai badge.
Another engineering highlight of the Kona Electric is the shift-by-wire gear control. Said to enable “intuitive operation of the electric powertrain,” drivers are able to fine-tune the intensity of the regenerative braking using the paddle shifts behind the steering wheel. This information is just one of the benchmarks that is detailed and can be seen on the Kona’s 7.0-in supervision cluster. This screen displays key information about the car’s driving performance and, in addition, the combiner headup display shows relevant driving information directly to the driver’s line of sight.
The Kona Electric is equipped with the company’s latest active safety and driving assistance technologies called SmartSense. These systems include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot detection including rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, driver attention warning, and speed-limit information function. It also offers a range of connectivity features, such as the infotainment system which integrates navigation, media, and connectivity features (e.g., Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto), as well as wireless charging.