Hyundai Reassures Dealers as Battery Shortage Adds Dark Clouds to Kona Electric Launch

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
hyundai reassures dealers as battery shortage adds dark clouds to kona electric

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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2 of 9 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Nov 15, 2018

    "So we’re going to be all-in on the Kona EV" Building a compliance car is the definition of *not* being all-in.

  • Darex Darex on Nov 15, 2018

    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.

  • Jeff S I ignore the commercials. Never owned a Mazda but I would definitely look at one and seriously consider it. I would take a Honda, Toyota, or Mazda over any German vehicle at least they are long lasting, reliable, and don't cost an arm and a leg to maintain.
  • GregLocock The predictable hysteria and repetition of talking points in the meeja is quite funny. it does not divide Oxford into six zones. it restricts access at 6 locations , one on each road, to reduce congestion in the town centre. Florence, which faces the same issue, traffic and narrow historic streets, lined with historic buildings, simply closed the entire town centre off. Don't see anybody whining about that.
  • Jeff S I have rented from Hertz before and never encountered this but if I had I would sue them. Would not want a gun pointed at me and thrown in jail for renting a car.
  • Arthur Dailey I did use a service pre COVID to get the pricing that the dealers were alleged to have paid the manufacturer. It also provided 'quotes' from multiple dealers .
  • Arthur Dailey Has anyone else concluded that we may have a new 'troll' on this site?