The adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles has been a slow process here in Australia due to a multitude of reasons. Firstly, electric and hybrid cars have been relatively expensive against their comparable petrol or diesel counterparts. Secondly, the battery capacity and driving range in earlier vehicles were limited.
Thirdly, the infrastructure to support the charging requirements of these vehicles has been mostly non-existent. Thankfully, as technology improves and manufacturers drive down the cost of production, increase the range and third parties build out a charging network, buying an electric car is making more and more sense for your weekly commute and running around.
The Hyundai Kona Electric takes the popular Kona SUV, replaces the engine for electric motors and switches out a petrol tank for a 64kWh lithium-ion battery. What you get is a zero-emission vehicle capable of driving over 450km off a single charge. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics we travel on average 13,400km each year or around 258km each week. Meaning, the range of the electrified Kona should more than adequately meet the needs of most drivers.
Styling-wise, minor changes to better suit the electric drive was thoughtfully done to result in a concept car look with restyled front and rear bumpers. The wheels have been styled to improve aerodynamics and the range of the battery as much as possible. The interior is cleaner and less cluttered with thanks to simplified gear selector buttons whilst still providing additional driving modes to add a little sportiness or use as little battery as possible. Information presented is displayed on a digital display – no old school analogue dials on view here!
As expected in most electric cars, the range of active safety equipment is extensive and includes your smart cruise control, forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert. The Highlander model we were driving adds a few extra creature comforts like LED headlamps, high beam assist and front parking sensors,
At a standstill the only giveaway the Kona Electric is powered on is the futuristic tone emitted from a speaker hidden in the front bumper, alerting pedestrians nearby that the car is on and can move. This same speaker is used for a subtle beep while reversing too. Noise from the road is quite audible when on the move and not as quiet as other electric models experienced in the past. However, the driving experience still creates a relaxing environment.
Passenger space is adequate but not abundant, with a 6ft tall passenger behind a 6ft tall driver fitting with no problems if it is a short-ish drive. Installing a child-seat is possible, but space is tight. As a trade-off though, the interior is so quiet the squeeze might be worth it for the peace it potentially could create.
Acceleration comes quickly and smoothly with no gear changes to consider and the feedback from the digital dash helps you adjust your driving style to maximise the range. During our tests, we effortlessly reached over 450km from a single charge with enough to spare. Having enough charge in reserve is also important. Charging infrastructure in Brisbane and the rest of Australia is limited.
Using crowd sourced apps like PlugShare still required visits to multiple charging sites over 10km away from each other to be able to charge finally. Additionally, not all locations are the 100kW fast-charging stations enabling you to go from 0-80% in just under an hour. You could be waiting for a significantly longer amount of time to be able to get to your next destination. Thankfully, this is improving slowly and will only get better and some councils do offer charging stations in their car parks. Brisbane City Council provides half-price parking and free charging in the Brisbane CBD. During our visit, staff were more than happy to help us ensure we were getting the fastest charge we could.
Hyundai Kona Electric Specifications
|Power/Torque||150 kW/395 Nm|
|Battery Capacity||64 kWh|
|Energy Consumption (As Tested)||13.2 kWh/100 km|
|ANCAP/Euro NCAP||5-Star (2017)|
|KM’s Travelled||877.3 km|
The Kona Electric does carry a hefty premium over the regular Kona, even if the capped price servicing is only $165 every 12 months or 10,000 km. If you aren’t buying to fit a tight budget and an EV is starting to catch your interest the Hyundai Kona Electric is a long-range electric vehicle that really starts to make sense as a mainstream product.