Passenger Vehicles

Hyundai Kona Electric launched

by Jimi Beckwith, Autocar UK Mar 07, 2018

Hyundai has launched its second electric car, a pure electric version of the Kona small SUV with an anticipated driving range of up to 292 miles from a single battery charge.

On show in Geneva, the Kona Electric will be offered with two different powertrains when it goes on sale in the summer. These are likely to offer two driving range options, although Hyundai remains tight-lipped in terms of more specific details.

If confirmed, a driving range of 292 miles would be a 118-mile improvement over that offered by the pure electric variant of the Ioniq, which was the brand's first EV, launched in 2016. 

Hyundai has already confirmed that the Kona Electric will get a high level of technology, both in terms of driver assistance systems and interior conveniences. It has yet to confirm how immersive the assistance systems will be, but the Korean giant has hinted at a level of autonomous driving capability. The car is likely to get a system akin to VW Group's traffic jam assist system, which controls steering, acceleration and braking at speeds of up to 37mph.

Hyundai confirmed to Autocar last year that it was preparing a pure electric version of the small SUV when it was also revealed that a smaller, A-segment SUV is under development, as well as a range-topping E-segment SUV that will be larger than the Santa Fe. The fourth-generation Santa Fe is being revealed alongside the Kona Electric at Geneva next month.

The Kona Electric's styling is under wraps at present, but it is likely to offer some variation on the internal combustion-engined Kona. A preview image issued by Hyundai reveals little of its design, but hints at tweaks around the grille to differentiate it from the standard car. 

Hyundai has high hopes for the Kona Electric, which has been deliberately placed in a market of its own as an affordable mainstream electric SUV, although it's likely to be heavily outsold by the petrol-engined alternative - Ioniq Electric sales made up just 5% of the model's success last year, although sales have grown four-fold this year so far. The Kona is currently behind the Tucson and i30 in Hyundai's 2018 sales rankings, although the electric and upcoming diesel variants, both due in summer, are expected to lift it. 

The vehicle is the latest development in Hyundai Group's aggressive low-emissions vehicles development scheme; the recently revealed Nexo SUV represents the brand's hydrogen fuel cell efforts, while a Kia Niro EV, due to go on sale later this year, is another recent prong in the group's plan to introduce 16 electrified vehicles to its product range by 2025.

As a small SUV - the fastest-growing segment in the industry in terms of models on sale - the Kona Electric is likely to represent a large opportunity for the brand to take the lead in EV sales in the UK and Europe, where the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe currently dominate.

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