By on November 15, 2018

By all accounts, the Hyundai Kona Electric is a zippy little crossover endowed with surprising range and the same basic utility as its gas-powered sibling, minus the whole all-wheel drive thing. However, a battery shortage afflicting the Korean automaker has added uncertainty to a model arriving on American shores this year.

Will it actually show up when a customer wants one?

Don’t worry about that, Hyundai’s telling dealers. There’s a plan to get Kona Electrics to America.

As reported by Wards Auto, Mike O’Brien, vice-president of product planning for Hyundai Motor America, recently travelled to the automaker’s HQ to ensure supply would be met. He was told that production of the 258-mile vehicle, already a hit in Europe, would get a boost.

“Our top management simply told us, ‘We’re going to make sure you have enough.’ So we’re going to be all-in on the Kona EV,” O’Brien said. The plan is for EV-hungry California to serve as the first recipient of the subcompact crossover. Shortly after that, the Kona Electric arrives in U.S. states that conform to California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate. The automaker has ordered the installation of three charging plugs at dealers in those states.

While ZEV jurisdictions remain the company’s chief focus, Hyundai claims that any buyer who pays for a Kona Electric, regardless of location, will get one.

It’s hard to gauge demand for the vehicle. In Norway, a country that snaps up EVs like it’s its job, 20,000 orders for the Kona Electrics turned into 7,000 sold orders, Wards Auto reports. The company has already pushed up its production forecast once. While this increase in anticipated demand ran head-on into an existing lithium-ion battery shortage, Hyundai says it has a second supplier ready to deliver the cells.

“Battery capacity is a bottleneck, but we’re working that out right now,” O’Brien said “We’re very fortunate one of our sister companies is helping us with that. So that’s going to help us a lot in terms of being able to respond rapidly to the market.”

The publication notes that Enercell, Hyundai Motor Group’s only battery subsidiary, does not build lithium-ion batteries, adding a bit of mystery to the issue. Other companies in the Hyundai supply chain have the capability, but aren’t members of the group.

[Image: Hyundai]

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9 Comments on “Hyundai Reassures Dealers as Battery Shortage Adds Dark Clouds to Kona Electric Launch...”

  • avatar

    I feel like barring some developmental breakthrough, this kind of bottleneck is going to get worse before it gets better.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This is purely a logistical screwup. Given the low volume of EVs Hyundai/Kia are producing, there is no excuse for having a battery shortage, except poor planning. Battery mfg capacity is another issue that becomes very real if you want to build EVs.

      That Gigafactory in Nevada is producing 100 to 1000 times the batteries that H/K needs.

      • 0 avatar

        @SCE, I read that the “battery bottleneck” in GF1 was what led to the decision to create the Mid-Range Model 3.

        If that’s not the case, why did they create the MR Model 3 at all? And as recently reported, my local dealer’s “other” parking lot now is holding over 300 cars, all models, and most of the Model 3s have red brake calipers that usually mean it’s a Performance Model.

        It’s just not all adding up to me, but, I’m old and have an addled brain, so I get to blame that on almost everything!

        I believe it was you that posted in the last couple of months about Tesla changing the chemistry of the 2170 cell – at the time I wouldn’t see why they would do that, but recently I have read that they have come up with some better chemistry – so if that is the case, how do you think that plays into the used EV market? Will smart buyers try to match VINs to get the ones with the best battery chemistry?

        • 0 avatar

          I think “better chemistry” means better for the producer. The goal is to get the same results with a smaller proportion of rare earth elements, especially cobalt.

          My point being, there should be no difference to the end user.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX


          The MR Model 3 was an interesting option for people who wanted to secure the full Federal subsidy before it expired this year, and before they took delivery of their car. Tesla made that pretty clear, and it corresponded with their discontinuance of the LR rear drive version.

          It appeared at a very interesting time for me, because I balked at the LR Model 3 in September (mainly due to price), only to be teased by the Mid-range Model 3 several weeks later. The store kindly called to see if I’d be interested, but still no. I said I’d hold out for the SR Model 3 – maybe.

          Well, that maybe became a no when I got a Hyundai Ioniq EV last weekend. It is a compliance car, and I drove to a compliance state to get it – long story.

          As for 2170 battery chemistry, I think mcs has been posting on that subject. The advantage is a lighter battery pack for the short-range car, which will increase its range. I suppose this change will propagate through the Model 3 line.

          I’m not sure people will shop VINs to get the new chemistry, since Tesla’s chemistry and range are already very good.

          As for the parking lots full of Teslas, I’d see that as a good thing. They *must* do something to smooth out delivery of their cars, and having buffer inventory around the country will speed delivery for new orders.

          As long as Tesla has increasing monthly sales, those lots are a good sign.

          • 0 avatar

            “it corresponded with their discontinuance of the LR rear drive version.”

            This is a very important observation.

            AWD M3 was and is selling like hotcakes while demand for the RWD variant was waning, it had after all been available for over a year. Retooling the assembly line where the RWD car was being made was a quick and easy way to boost demand for the M3 prior to the tax credit winding down.

          • 0 avatar

            Here’s a link to an article about the improved packs and cells. Probably not as good as Solid Energy’s 450 Wh/kg, but if you look at the progress of cell technology over time, a bit of improvement isn’t surprising. I think the first Nissan pack was 157 Wh/kg (another source says 140). It’s now 224 Wh/kg. I think the Model 3 is 207 Wh/kg according to one estimate I saw. So, maybe there has been a small improvement there.


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “So we’re going to be all-in on the Kona EV”

    Building a compliance car is the definition of *not* being all-in.

  • avatar

    I love that paint scheme in the picture above. It’s identical to my MINI Cooper’s “Moonwalk Grey” and black. Even now, it still looks awesome to me. Really tasteful.

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