The new Hyundai Kona compact crossover SUV has yet to appear in Malaysia but it’s already making big news elsewhere, with the latest news being the unveiling of an all-electric variant to join the petrol and diesel options (there is no hybrid variant). Initially, it will be available in Korea, where it will be made, as well as California and certain US states.

With its advanced powertrain, the Kona Electric is claimed to be able to go up to 400 kms on a full battery pack. This means you could drive from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur, or Kuala Lumpur to Penang without having to recharge along the way. Of course, at this time, many people may still have ‘range anxiety’ and worry about the consequences of a depleted battery pack when they are on a long journey.

Hyundai has put in much effort to develop a reliable lithium-ion battery pack with a 64 kWh capacity which powers a 150 kW (201 hp)/395 Nm electric motor. The high-efficiency permanent-magnet synchronous motor delivers power to the front wheels through a 7.981 axle ratio. The powertrain inverter has a power density of 25.4 kVA per litre.

The battery system is liquid-cooled and operates at 356 volts. The battery pack has an energy density is 141.3 Wh/kg, with a total battery system weight under 455 kgs.

Hyundai’s internal testing shows the Kona Electric energy efficiency to be 117 MPGe (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent, a method of measuring ‘consumption’ in alternative fuel vehicles) which is better than the Nissan Leaf (112 MPGe).

To recharge the battery pack can take up to 9 hours and 35 minutes, depending on the type of charging system used. It is possible to fully recharge the battery pack from empty in 54 minutes with a Level-III quick charge using the SAE-Combo charging port, So assuming you drive from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, perhaps the safe thing to do would be to recharge in Ipoh while having a meal and then continue with a full battery pack. However, you would still need to find a recharging station. For charging convenience, the charging port is located in the front grille area for head-in parking ease whenever charging is needed.

Owners can manage and monitor the Kona Electric remotely via the Blue Link smartphone app. With the app, they can access real-time data from their vehicle and issue specific commands like starting the engine and locking doors. For those who will charge at their residence, one of the most useful features of the app is the ability to manage their charging schedule. This will be useful for those who have different electric rates at off-peak times so they can schedule the charging when rates are cheaper.

The Kona Electric is differentiated from the other variants with a more futuristic appearance. It has a separated-headlight design signature with LED Daytime Running Lights above and high-efficiency LED headlights below. The visual relationship between the composite lamps, the futuristic grille and unique side cladding results in a distinctive electric crossover character.

The variant is offered with 5 colour choices and if it is without a sunroof, the roof is finished with a colour-contrasting white color scheme. An optional white roof provides contrast between the roof and body for a distinctive appearance and more effective solar heat rejection to reduce load on the air-conditioning system, increasing overall efficiency in warmer climates.

While we will probably see the Kona here in due course, it is unlikely that we will get the electric variant anytime soon. Even the IONIQ Electric is not being considered for sale since the recharging network is still limited. As ranges start to increase, perhaps there may be a possibility to market such cars but the issue of range anxiety will still need to be addressed before fully electric cars can sell in any meaningful numbers.

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[Chips Yap]

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