By on March 28, 2018

Image: Hyundai

Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said we’ll learn more about the company’s future Model Y electric crossover — its production date and build location — probably in another six months. Money might start flowing to that project late this year.

Well, by the fourth quarter of this year, electric Hyundai Kona crossovers will actually be arriving in California driveways, followed soon after by Northeastern states and other U.S. locales with zero emission vehicle mandates. This vehicle exists, in the flesh, right now. As the first mainstream crossover EV to land on our shores, the gas-free Kona’s estimated range tops that of the Chevrolet Bolt and (still unproduced) base model Tesla Model 3.

If you can see beyond the Jason Voorhees face, a bland yet revolutionary vehicle awaits.

The Kona Electric made its debut Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show, revealing its mainly featureless, perforated grille in public for the first time. The model is good for 250 miles of driving between charges, Hyundai claims.

If confirmed by the EPA, this range puts it 12 miles beyond the Bolt and 30 miles past the range of the stripper Model 3.

Image: Hyundai

Hyundai’s subcompact crossover achieves this through a large, 64 kWh battery and a single electric motor powering the front wheels. Output stands at 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque — more than enough power to shave some rubber from the model’s low-drag tires at stoplights (assuming Hyundai allows it to). This tops the grunt of both the base 2.0-liter and uplevel 1.6-liter turbo model.

With its charging port located in the nose and only a small opening in the model’s chin for airflow (aero-improving side curtains appear as inlets on either side), the Kona EV’s light sources appear even smaller than on the gas-powered version. It’s a jarring sight some might require getting used to. The rest of the vehicle is pure Kona, as the EV variant retains the stock model’s gray plastic cladding poured over the wheel arches.

Image: Hyundai

Standard content includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and buyers can opt for a larger, 8-inch touchscreen (up 1 inch from stock). Available driver aids run the gamut of what you’ve come to expect, and yes, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection comes on all models.

The vehicle’s underbody battery pack means cargo space remains the same as in its dino juice-slurping counterparts. Hyundai claims a charging time of 9 hours, 35 minutes at a conventional Level 2 charger, or 54 minutes at a DC fast-charging station (for a zero to 80 percent top-up). Once charged up and underway, drivers can choose from range-saving “normal” and “eco” modes, or hit the “sport” button to open the electron floodgates.

Hyundai will reveal pricing closer to the model’s launch, but expect it to be competitive. Even though the Kona EV is currently the sole occupant of the non-premium EV utility segment, rivals wait in the wings — including Tesla. Well, eventually.

[Images: Hyundai]

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40 Comments on “2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: Possibly 250 Miles of Range in a Real Crossover That Actually Exists...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Can you purchase these Kona EVs with PayPal?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Sssss, ssss, ssss, ssss, hah, hah, hah, hah…

    /flashback

  • avatar
    JimC2

    That is one big battery! Use whatever battery-to-gallon-of-gasoline conversion you like, but it comes out to “equivalent” to a 5-10 gallon tank. (At least, what kind of horsepower x hours that 5-10 gallons of gas can make when you burn it in a modern engine of average efficiency.) I don’t see curb weight but I’m guessing 3,500-4,000 pounds.

  • avatar
    JMII

    If the price and range is right this could be a massive hit since automakers claims this is what market is currently demanding: CUV + all electric. How did Hyundai beat everyone to market with this? Someone’s crystal ball was working.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I think they beat everyone to market because they figured there was enough profit in it to make it worthwhile. It’s not really a huge technical achievement, it’s mostly just making up their mind to put a big enough battery in the thing- in other words, the business decision to dedicate enough of their financial resources (design, production, marketing, etc.) towards doing this and away from whatever other product lines.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Who needs a crystal ball? CUVs have been hot for like 5 or 6 years, Teslas longer than that. Battery prices have been dropping steadily for years. The fact that only Hyundai placed a bet on an ECUV reflects poorly on the rest of the industry.

      • 0 avatar
        tnk479

        We can probably assume that it means there is no profit in EV’s yet and so they aren’t eager to sell the hottest and most profitable models with EV power yet.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Is this larger than the Bolt? I got to see a Bolt up close and personal at the local auto show last week. It was smaller than I expected. My wife is in the market for a replacement for her Honda Oddy. We looked at all of the mid size and compact crossovers at the show. After about the fourth one, they all started to blend together so choosing one would come down mostly to price and ergonomics. She thought the Bolt was too small. I thought it was too expensive for it’s diminutive size.
    If the Kona were size competitive with the CRV or RAV4, I would be interested. As for range, it’s not a big factor for me as I would charge it in the garage and use it mostly locally.
    Hyundai did not have one of these at their display.

    • 0 avatar
      mwilbert

      A Kona is just a little smaller than a RAV4 or a CRV. Very likely it would be big enough.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      Kona is a lot smaller than a RAV4 or CR-V. The gas Kona competes in the same class as the HR-V. It felt smaller(to me) inside than the Bolt.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      The Kona is a subcompact crossover–meaning it’s about the size of a Bolt EV/Trax/Encore. In fact, it’s not quite as tall as the Bolt.

      If you want a decent-size SUV/CUV that can move on electrons, you’re limited to a PHEV–no full electrics yet, short of the Tesla Model X, which is more of a six-figure AWD high-performance minivan.

      Assuming you don’t want to hand Volvo or BMW over 60 grand for a car that car barely move on electricity and only for a dozen miles at that, then you have only one choice, and it’s quite a good one: the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Size is sufficient for any normal human; the Outlander is the longest vehicle in the “compact” SUV/CUV class. Comfort is fine: they’ve upscaled the cabin for this model. Technology is impressive: it’s basically a first-gen Chevy Volt in the form of an all wheel drive SUV. It’s got electric motors front and rear, a good-size battery, and a gas engine that can operate as a generator or clutch in directly at higher speeds. If your wife’s commute is under 22 miles, she could go months and never burn a drop of gasoline. However, the MPG once the battery is flat is no better than the standard Outlander.

      If she’s open to another minivan, then then the news is even better. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is actually a plug-in hybrid. Unlike the Outlander, it’s arguably the best vehicle in its class to start with, powertrain aside. The powertrain is powerful, quiet, thrifty even when the battery runs out, and you get 33 miles of pure EV range before the gas is required. If you have the dough for a premium minivan, it’s a magnificent machine.

  • avatar
    Oreguy

    I can’t figure out why mainstream manufacturers, who are in the EV game, cannot create even a mildly-alluring design. I get that a traditional grill is not required on an electric car, but why make it look like the “grill delete” option was checked on the order sheet?

    I give KIA credit for getting this to market in what appears to be competitive form. It’ll be interesting to see what the price point will be. Last week I drove my customer’s recently-delivered Model 3. The car looked great and drove quite well, even on autopilot. My overall examination of the car was rather cursory, but it did not seem to have any visible fit/finish issues. There was however noticeable road and suspension noise over bumps and such. The flat-panel uni-display takes some serious getting used to, especially for mundane functions like wipers and side-mirror adjustment.

    His only options were extended range and auto-pilot. $65K out the door for a small-ish RWD car. That’s a long way from the $35K base that many are expecting.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    How is the Bolt NOT a CUV, albeit a small one?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      See Felix Hoenikker’s comment above. The Bolt is so small I don’t think it passes the “we need a CUV for the kids/dog” test. Its basically a compact car with a hatch that sits a tiny bit higher. So people see the Bolt and immediately write it off as being too small. The market doesn’t want tiny CUVs, they really seem to like this mid-sized CUV thing. Bigger then your average car yet smaller then an SUV you can’t park. We are talking RAV4, Rogue and CR-V here, not Juke, HR-V, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Not buying it. Literally and figuratively. It’s no smaller than Toyota or Hondas new small CUV options that I can’t be bothered to remember the name or, or that ghastly little Buick thing (isn’t it on the same platform as that anyway?). And those are certainly considered to be CUVs. Of course it isn’t comparable to an Odyssey – it’s a SMALL CUV, not a land yacht.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        “So people see the Bolt and immediately write it off as being too small.” Then they’ll feel the same way about the electrified Kona. It’s small. And only FWD too. I don’t see a difference between this and the Bolt.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The Bolt isn’t a CUV, but it should’ve been.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        The Bolt is 100% as much a CUV as the Kona…which is to say it ain’t one. The Kona gets halfway there with the utterly ridiculous plastic cladding slathered all over the wheel arches (thankfully painted body color in the photo car here), but to really meet the arbitrary definition we all seem to have in our minds, it would need some completely pointless suspension lift so as to destroy the delightful driving dynamics of a tiny car.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    If, and I repeat IF, this comes to the market it will be confirmation of what I believed would be the fate of Tesla all along. A major vehicle manufacturer or two would step in with saleable EV vehicles and the ability to mass produce them in quantity before Tesla could offer, in any reasonable volumes, a fairly mass-market product within financial reach of a large base of customers. This may prevent Tesla from gaining more than a tenuous toehold in this market/price range. Chevrolet with the Bolt already and now it seems Hyundai is also poised to enter the fray. Not really a slam on Tesla at all but what I believe to be the reality it faces. The final nail in the coffin would be a pricing “war” a la the one in the ’50s that killed the independents of those days. The Doomsday Clock minute hand just clicked on tick further toward midnight.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Ironically I could see a situation where the larger commercial fleet vehicles keep Tesla afloat in the long run.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        Art Vandelay – Agreed. This and battery production for others.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Tesla recently issued a recall for corrosion in its power steering mount system.

        So keeping Tesla afloat could be affected negatively by recalls not yet issued, as they arise.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          Jesus, if that’s the case then Ford’s circling the drain…because much as I love my Ford, it’s been recalled more than all other cars I’ve owned combined…and frankly there are a lot MORE things that SHOULD have been recalls and not Technical Service Bulletins.

          Tesla gets criticized for iterative engineering, but all manufacturers do it; Ford has gone through several strut mount designs for my car, had to redesign the transmission for the second model year due to chronic failures, etc. The difference is that if Tesla designs an improved part they will begin installing it immediately, not as a package of “improvements” for the “new model year.”

    • 0 avatar
      01 Deville

      Since its inception Tesla has been more likely to fail than succeed, but the odds of it failing continue to go down.
      I am reasonably confident that Tesla can sustain itself as sort of as an electric MB, which will have a sizeable but not mass market volume based on brand recognition with decent profit margins. They might continue to fiddle with side projects such as Semis, buses, electric roofs, electric delivery vehicles etc, but they are more likely to settle on near lux to lux vehicle territory, and occupy a significant market share due to being first there.
      At the lower end of the market, I see an opportunity for Chinese to finally break through, compete on price and bring a credible vehicle under 20k with an English sounding brand name.. A sub brand of Geely using Volvo’s expertise might be able to do it.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The difference (for now) is Telsa has brand power. People want and desire a Telsa. Nobody is putting money down and waiting on some new Hyundai. So Telsa builds a luxury product, stays up market and keep prices high thus remaining a mostly niche item. You can buy a BMW 3 series or Kia Stinger, and on paper they are pretty much equals, but that logo makes a BIG difference.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Impressive range from an ugly car.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I hope Washington is one of the states where it will be available. If so, it will definitely be on the test drive list for our C-Max replacement.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m waiting for the Kia Niro version of this EV. It will be roomier and better-looking.

  • avatar
    incautious

    All this talk about electrics, and how nice and warm and fuzzy they make everyone feel. But no one talks much about the down side. At around 80k to 100k the battery pack is shot costing the consumer $10,000 or more to replace( the leaf is cheapest at over $6000 installed)Factor in energy cost at around 17 cents per KWH which in electric car( electric cars need 30kwh to go 100miles) is about $10-11 to drive 200 miles, and you see that the true cost and downside of these things are.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      That and the reality that long trips are still a big question mark because the infrastructure simply isn’t there yet to support EVs. And even half-hour quick-charging times for an 80 percent top-up won’t be nearly fast enough if they get anything close to mainstream acceptance. There’ll be too much competition for charging ports. Some people really want EVs for everyone but, as nice as some of them are, they’re not even close to ready for primetime.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        A 250mi range would cover 99% of most people’s driving. So the charging infrastructure isn’t a problem. With 99% or more of them never charging outside of their garage or the charger at their place of employment there will not be too much competition for chargers.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Good job summarizing the fears, which I share, but honestly there’s not that much evidence for them.

      Early EVs with air cooled batteries could experience rapid capacity loss, but there’s no reason to think a modern liquid battery will. There are Chevy Volts and Teslas with six-figure mileage and little or no loss. But yeah, until someone else has done the mileage you plan to in the vehicle and climate you plan to, it’s hard to know.

      If you live somewhere that electricity is more expensive than gas, and you own your house, perhaps you should install solar: it could pay off regardless of what you drive.

      Charging on extended trips is of course is the tricky bit. Tesla is the only one to really solve this issue satisfactorily: other makes can use generic DC fast charge stations but Tesla stations charge faster, exist more places, don’t require different payment methods, and a Tesla car will automatically direct you the next one you should use and tell you how long to stay there. That said, the issue is a bit of a red herring: if there’s one or two fillups along your way, the extra time isn’t that significant (plan to charge at lunch and it’s irrelevant); and any trip longer than that is likely going to be taken by air if time really is an issue.

      I do think it means PHEVs are going to with us longer than some folks think: a) as a bridge technology they can quell these anxieties and b) it’s a lot cheaper to slap 12-16 kWh of battery in an existing platform than 64 kWh, and yet that’s enough battery that most of your daily driving can be done on electricity.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      People lease EVs so that battery life which may or may not be as little as 80-100k like a Leaf, isn’t a issue at all.

      The last I read the national average for electricity was 12 cents per KWH, but of course the average doesn’t matter, it is what you pay locally, ditto for the price of gas. So if you live someplace where the gas price is high and the electricity price is low then they can have a significantly lower TCO.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “the national average for electricity was 12 cents per KWH, ”

        In NM we must be toward the higher costs at 17 cents per KWH, in spite of all the Solar and Wind Farms, many of which stand idle much of the time.

        So in a residence that requires two separate AC units, a 5-ton central and a Mini-Split zone AC, this can drive elec costs to >$400 per month, easily.

        But for those who choose to own an EV, leasing is the best way to go, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Good job copying your summary from Fox News. /s

      My 12 Leaf cost $20/month to drive 800 miles/month, so a fraction of what you’re talking about.

      The real downside is depreciation on non-Tesla EVs, so I’m glad my Leaf was leased.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @incautious: Your information is total crap:

      For battery pack life, check out this article:
      https://electrek.co/2016/11/01/tesla-battery-degradation/

      Nissan’s battery life might not be as good. Then again, my battery has been pampered and I still have all 12 bars of capacity at 62k miles. My 12th bar test this morning gave me 6.2 miles at 32f degrees before it dropped to 11 bars. That was about 5 miles at 40 and 1 mile at 65. Used 25% at 65 mph for total 20 miles – at 32F. Not bad for a Leaf at 62k miles in freezing temps. Doesn’t sound like my battery is shot to me. Then again, if all hell breaks loose and it’s shot at 80k, the Nissan warranty will take care of it.

      If it needs replacing someday, the old program at Nissan was $5,500. You said it was over $6k, but that is out and out untrue. $5,499 installed and out the door. Now it seems there is a new program that charges $2,850 for a refabricated replacement battery. That new program is now in Japan, so I’m not sure what it will cost here. By the time my car needs a new battery, it’ll be the early 2020’s and they might even be cheaper. NMC 811 (reduced cobalt and manganese) replacements should drive the cost of a 30 kWh battery to $2,500 or lower.

      https://electrek.co/2018/03/26/nissan-leaf-battery-pack-replacement-program/

      In a couple of years, I’ll pick up a Porsche Mission E for the long-distance trips. So as long as the Leaf I have now can handle the around town stuff and manages 30 miles of range, I’ll keep going with the old battery. That could mean close to 200,000 miles assuming it starts degrading faster than it is now at some point.

      As far as costs go, I’m usually better than 4.2 miles per kWh. So, about $3.80 per 100 mile at .16 per kWh. But, I typically get free charging at the halfway point during trips in the car, so it usually only costs me $1.90 for 100 miles.

  • avatar

    Nice looking car from the front and the flanks… Rear looks like a helicopter dropped it 5 stories high on some other vehicle.

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