By on December 18, 2019

Hyundai Motor Group India hopes to grow interest in the Kona Electric by having the subcompact crossover become the first EV to drive to Mount Everest’s base camp. While demand for the model has so far been relatively low, with deliveries averaging roughly 100 units per month in the U.S., it’s performed rather well globally (for an EV). Hyundai has one of the best ratios of plug-in sales in the industry — with about 5 percent of global sales going toward something rechargeable.

The figures vary month to month, but Hyundai has been able to consistently rely on at least 4,000 EV sales per month through 2019. In October, Hyundai said it shipped over 8,000 plug-in models, with continued growth anticipated through the end of this year.

Unfortunately, Indian auto sales aren’t particularly healthy. Volume is down over 30 percent vs last year and Hyundai promised $250 million to the nation to further the sales of electric and hybrid vehicles. EV sales are particularly bad, with estimates of all-electric passenger vehicles being no higher than 10,000 units (total) over the last five years. The brand likely figured a regionally focused publicity stunt might help boost interest in Asia while giving international markets a similar bump. After all, everyone in the world has heard of Everest and the dangerous ascent to its peak. 

The Kona probably won’t have to contend with frozen corpses and treacherous crevasses, however. China actually built a road leading up to the mountain’s North Base Camp (17,000 ft up!) and that appears to be the path Hyundai has chosen to take. The drive began at Tibet’s capital of Lhasa on Saturday, led by mountaineer Ajeet Bajaj (who probably won’t have to do any climbing).

It’s not clear which model Hyundai has taken to the mountain. Indian-spec Kona Electrics use a 39.2-kWh battery pack that’s substantially smaller than the unit we get here in North America. Still, there would be questions about range either way. While mostly paved, the 450-mile road cuts through some of the most desolate terrain on the planet, with few stops being capable of recharging EVs. The Kona will have depleted its battery several times over on the frigid journey, likely requiring some kind of support team to come with.

At its core, this is a publicity stunt designed to make the Kona Electric more appealing — both in India and abroad. It also allows Hyundai to showcase the advantages of electrification at high elevations where internal combustion vehicles begin wheezing for air. But it’s not the same as the model driving up the mountain, which wouldn’t have been possible anyway.

This author doesn’t care. Even if Hyundai takes a few demerits for making this endeavor — which it has charmingly entitled “Emission Impossible” — seem more daunting than it truly is, it’s still getting eyes on one of the most enjoyable mainstream EVs currently available. This is one of the only electrics I would actually miss if it ended up suddenly being discontinued, as it makes for a enjoyable urban runabout — even if it is too expensive at $36,950 (to start).

More importantly, these are the kinds of stunts people who actually like cars can appreciate and argue about. It throws down the gauntlet, hopefully encouraging other manufacturers to attempt something similarly bold … or bolder. Remember how much publicity Ford got for pulling a train with the F-150’s electric prototype? That video received over 2 million views on Ford’s YouTube channel and was shared countless times. We don’t expect Hyundai to manage the same with its road trip to Everest, but it’s on the right track.

[Images: Hyundai Motor Group]

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15 Comments on “Hyundai Hopes to Boost Kona Electric Interest With Mountainous Publicity Stunt...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    “While demand for the model has so far been relatively low”

    That’s not surprising considering that all of H/K’s plug-in vehicles are only sold in 10 states.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Let me guess…the caravan to base camp has a big diesel truck towing a big diesel gen set to replenish depleted Kona along the way.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “Emission Impossible”

    ….As if third world power generating plants don’t emit any pollution…….

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      It’s not an even trade. EV pollution at the plant is always lower than ICE pollution on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        The point is that calling a car “zero emissions” is a lie unless ALL power on the grid is hydro or solar. I would be entirely comfortable with “reduced emissions.”

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        My earlier comment has gone bye-bye on this new stupid commenting system.

        “EV pollution at the plant is always lower than ICE pollution on the road”.

        Horse manure. I worked at an electrical utility that ran both coal and oil-fired electrical generation.

        All you’re doing is repeating claptrap that originated in the EU. And which, repeated a billion times, has bamboozled all the non-engineering types.

        MPGe — the biggest technical nonsense perpetrated on our society in recent decades.

        If you assert something as you do here – back it up with some calculations. And no quoting sources — do it from basics.

        And while you’re at it, give us a survey of how well smokestack emissions per kWh compare to those of a three-way catalyst car. A hint. They’re nasty.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @conundrum: I actually am an engineering type.

          Using your logic, the world would be cleaner by ignoring the efficiencies of scale of a commercial power plant, and we should all have personal power plants for each home.

          Not sure what your objection is to MPGe; it’s a simple energy conversion.

        • 0 avatar
          EGSE

          “Horse manure. I worked at an electrical utility that ran both coal and oil-fired electrical generation.”

          So did the janitor that emptied the trashcans.

          “If you assert something as you do here – back it up with some calculations. And no quoting sources — do it from basics.

          And while you’re at it, give us a survey of how well smokestack emissions per kWh compare to those of a three-way catalyst car. A hint. They’re nasty.”

          And you have provided neither calculations or citations. I would accept respected peer-reviewed citations backing up your assertions. Sources like Infowars are neither respected or peer-reviewed by subject matter experts.

          Like SCE I’m also an engineer and recognize unsupported BS.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Forget base camp. My F-150 made the Summit (Northeast Ridge Route) on summer tires and achieved 26.2mpg on the way up.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Ecoboost?

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Traction control engaged for much of the trip (we towed a rather large trailer). Oh sorry, were you asking about the engine? All I know is it takes gasoline – we topped off at the Conoco by Mushroom Rock before the final ascent.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          Interestingly, the electric motors on the vehicle (wipers, power mirrors, power seats, HVAC fan) stopped functioning one by one as we gained altitude. (Something about the effect of altitude on the motor windings? I’m not sure. But now it makes sense that only gasoline-powered vehicles are used on the moon.)

  • avatar
    How_Embarrassing_4You

    OMG car company makes outrageous car commercial. News @ 11.
    “You may *murmur* all you like”

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