In the car business today, you either build crossover SUVs and light pickup trucks or you go home. And if you really want to sell electric cars, you target them fit into those market segments. Hyundai has three SUVs in its model lineup — the Tucson, Santa Fe, and Santa Fe Sport — but none of them goes head to head with the hottest selling compact crossovers — the Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Toyota CH-R, and Jeep Renegade. The new Hyundai Kona is supposed to fill that gap in the lineup and will be the first electric SUV from the Korean manufacturer.
The standard Kona is of little interest to the rabid electric car fans who frequent Gas2, but it will have a battery electric version that will get the attention of EV fans. At first, the reports out of South Korea were that the electric Kona would have a 40 kWh battery, which most American car buyers would consider too small for their needs.
But now comes word that Hyundai will offer a larger 64 kWh battery in the Kona. So equipped, it will have 500 kilometers of range. Convert that to miles and adjust for the optimistic European test cycle and you wind up with an electric SUV that should have an EPA range of about 210 miles. Now we’re talking. That puts it close to the range of the Chevy Bolt (238 miles) and the base model Tesla Model 3 (220 miles). Base price of the Kona Electric with the larger battery is projected to be a whisker under $40,000 when it arrives in the US next year.
What is interesting about the Kona is that much of its powertrain comes from LG Chem, the same folks who provide the motor and battery for the Chevy Bolt. In fact, the motor for the Kona is the same 204 horsepower unit found in the Bolt. The battery size of the Kona is just slightly larger than that supplied to General Motors for use in the Bolt.
GM has just made a major announcement that it will have two new electric cars on offer within the next 18 months. As suppliers become more involved in the manufacturing process, some convergence between models should be expected. Will the Kona and one of the new GM electric car models be twin sons of different mothers? Could be.
When it gets here, the Kona Electric will have a full complement of electronic safety features and upgraded charging that will let it take advantage of the 150 kW chargers expected to become part of the charging infrastructure in coming years. It may not be suitable for the Rubicon Trail (few vehicles are, regardless of the macho stickers on their flanks) but it could be just what many shoppers want — an all electric crossover SUV that looks the part and has more than 200 miles of range. Bring it on!
Source: Side3 News, Norway Hat Tip: Leif Hansen