Words Tom Stone
For the newly unveiled second-generation Kona, Hyundai has switched its priorities, developing it first and foremost as an electric vehicle before adding hybrid and ICE versions afterwards
Hyundai has promised to launch 11 new EVs by 2030. As the all-new Kona was designed first without an engine, this can count towards that target.
Catering to the enduring popularity of the B-SUV market, Hyundai clearly hopes this vehicle will also capture the burgeoning demand for electric vehicles. True, there will also be hybrid and ICE versions, but it is the electric powertrain version that took center stage at the launch.
“Kona Electric will play a major role alongside our Ioniq models in reinforcing Hyundai’s EV leadership,” says Jaehoon Chang, president and CEO of the Hyundai Motor Company. “At Hyundai, we don’t see the EV revolution as just the latest trend. We believe it is a pivot point for not only the industry but also for society. Through the implementation of eco-friendly mobility solutions like our EVs, we hope to speed the transition to clean mobility and make progress for humanity.”
The new Kona’s comes with either a standard-range 48.4kWh battery or a 65.4kWh long-range one, which delivers a WLTP-estimated 490km (304 miles) of all-electric range (AER), with battery preconditioning ensuring secure charging and range performance in winter.
The fact that this is an EV-first model is apparent in the host of EV-specific design enhancements, including frunk storage, active air flaps, interior and exterior vehicle-to-load (V2L) outlets, i-Pedal driving mode, smart regenerative system and electric active sound design (e-ASD).
Electric active sound design enhances the EV driving experience by replacing engine noise, which in a traditional ICE vehicle can help a driver to know how the car is behaving. With e-ASD electronically created sound is added to the cabin, which changes based on variables such as the vehicle’s driving speed, the torque state of the motor, and acceleration.
“Electric vehicles produce significantly less noise and vibration than conventional internal combustion engines,” says Ki-Chang Kim, a senior researcher at Hyundai Motor Group who worked on e-ASD for the OEM’s luxury Genesis marque. “Some drivers prefer the quietness of electric vehicles, but there are also many drivers who feel unfamiliar with it. It can also make driving tedious. We thought about these issues. Through the sound that e-ASD diffuses into the cabin, the driver can concentrate on driving and feel the fun. In addition, it is possible to drive more safely by recognizing the current driving speed through sound.”
Looking at some of the other EV-only features, another highlight is the vehicle-to-load (V2L) function, which takes advantage of the potentially untapped utility of the vehicle’s large battery when parked. It means it is possible to use the vehicle’s battery to power or charge any electrical equipment, with both interior and exterior outlets for convenience. Inside, devices can be plugged into a standard outlet on the rear center console when the EV is powered on. Outside, devices and home appliances can be plugged in using a V2L adapter.
The new i-Pedal is another smart EV feature which allows drivers to accelerate, decelerate and stop using only the accelerator pedal. Meanwhile the smart regenerative system automatically adjusts the amount of regenerative braking based on information from forward traffic flow.
Finally it is worth noting that the EV-first development of the new Kona has also informed the exterior of the vehicle, which accentuates furistic styling flourishes and, on a more practical level, prioritizes aerodynamics, with a drag coefficient of just 0.27. Some additional EV-variant only styling flourishes include a pixelated seamless horizon lamp and pixel graphics.
Hyundai engineers are justifiably proud of the new vehicle, which bodes well for the promised launch cycle over the remainder of this decade. “The new model builds on the great reputation of the first-generation Kona Electric and is designed and engineered to lead the competition with its many outstanding features,” concludes Chang.