Hyundai taps growing EV market with Kona SUV

October 19, 2018 06:01 CET

The Hyundai Kona Electric SUV is off to a fast start in Europe. The automaker says it received 7,000 orders just in Norway for its battery-powered small crossover during its launch in Oslo this summer.

While Hyundai declined to provide a sales target for the car, the company’s vice president of marketing and product, Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, said the Kona Electric is the first battery-powered model the automaker has introduced where demand is exceeding production. The waiting time for the Kona Electric is more than six months because Korea-based battery producer Hyundai Mobis cannot keep pace with the higher-than-expected orders. “They need five to six months to expand capacity,” said Ki-Sang Lee, who heads Hyundai’s r&d center for environmentally friend vehicles.

The Kona is part of a wave of full-electric cars that are forecast to boost Europe’s overall EV sales by more than 20 percent to 200,000 this year.

Looking further ahead, demand for battery-powered vehicles is forecast to reach 600,000 by 2020 and rise to nearly a million by 2022, LMC Automotive predicts. Hyundai plans to capitalize on this. The Kona Electric is one of four battery-driven cars the automaker plans to launch in Europe by 2020. Hyundai’s lineup already includes the Ioniq Electric and the Nexo fuel cell SUV.

The Kona Electric is part of a family that includes gasoline and diesel versions. Through seven months Hyundai has sold 35,135 units of those models in Europe, which made the fuel-powered Kona the No. 15-selling model in Europe’s fastest-growing segment. The Kona Electric differs from its fuel-powered siblings outside and inside. Its exterior has a closed front grille because there is no internal combustion engine to keep cool. The interior’s center console is more seamless because there is no gearshift, instead the driver uses buttons to control the shift-by-wire module.

The Kona Electric will be aimed primarily at European countries with a strong interest in EVs. This includes Norway and its Nordic neighbors as well as Germany, the UK, France, Switzerland and Austria.

The Basics

Launch date: July (Europe)

Base price: 34,600 euros (Germany); 45,600 euros for the 64-kW version

Where built: Ulsan, South Korea

Main rivals: Kia Soul EV, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Opel/Vauxhall Ampera-e

Engines: The car comes with a choice of two levels of performance. The top-performing Kona EV has a 64-kilowatt-hour lithium ion polymer battery that provides a single-charge range of 470 km (293 miles) based on the WLTP testing standard. The battery powers a 150-kilowatt (204-hp) electric motor. The base Kona EV has a 39.2-kWh battery (with a 300 km range) powering a 99 kW (135-hp) electric motor. The initial demand split is 60-40 in favor of the more powerful version, said Hofmann.

Smart braking: The car has a system that allows the driver to adjust the intensity of the regenerative braking by using the paddle shifts behind the steering wheel. When regenerative braking is set at the maximum level, it can replace normal braking in most cases.

Charging times: With the Kona’s 7.2 kW on-board-charger, it takes 9 hours 40 minutes to recharge variants with the 64-kWh battery pack and 6 hours 10 minutes for the 39-kWh version. Using a 100-kW fast charger provides an 80 percent charge to the 64-kWh version in 54 minutes.

AUTOMOTIVE NEWS EUROPE MONTHLY MAGAZINE

This story is from Automotive News Europe‘s latest monthly magazine, which is also available to read on our iPhone and iPad apps.You can download the new issue as well as past issues by clicking here.

You can reach Andrea Malan at amalan@autonews.com.

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