2019 Hyundai Kona Electric ~ fuel for life

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Hyundai gets it – people don’t want to sit in their bathroom and drive down the highway, they want to sit in their posh living room while driving down the road. Whether it is an alternative powertrain or not, people want luxury in their car. The price of the average vehicle is above $32,000 partially because people keep opting for more luxury. The day of the plastic EV to cut costs is gone. Hyundai is bringing out a functional SUV with a decent interior and a decent driving range.

Thankfully, Hyundai got the memo and made their alternative powertrain cars resplendent with new technology and decent interiors. Luxury should not change when you are creating a green car strategy, only the decarbonization of mobility.

The details of electric cars are critical in the decision to purchase a new powertrain. The Hyundai Kona Electric gets a respectable 258 driving range on a single battery charge. We started with 284 driving miles on our Electric drive on Sunset Boulevard toward Santa Monica, CA, up Neil Young and Joni Mitchell’s Topanga Canyon. We drove the High-voltage 64 kWh Lithium-ion Polymer battery past the areas of Los Angeles that used to be so filthy it was hard to breathe. We were talking about the hurricanes in Florida, and reminisced about the time Tesla did a software update so that the battery could go further, hopefully allowing people to drive out of harm’s way. Hyundai can update the software, or increase the battery usage in case of emergencies through the myhyundai app or a car dealer.

Competitors of the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric are the Tesla model 3, Chevy Bolt, Kia Soul, Fiat 500e, and the Nissan Leaf. Many would look at the Chevy Bolt as the lead contender against the Hyundai Kona Electric. They both use LG Chem cells and have the same wheelbase and length structure of a mid-size CUV. I would, however, look at the Nissan Leaf versus the Hyundai Kona electric CUV, IF Hyundai would offer me a certain amount of electricity for free each month with the purchase of a Kona electric.

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric ~ fuel for life ~ free energy?

The reason I would go with the Leaf over the others is the price of energy. The Nissan Leaf is part of a program called DrivetheArc that allows the owner to have free energy from Monterey to Tahoe. Much like Tesla did in their early years, Nissan offers free energy at individual stations in certain areas. Hyundai could spend their advertising money on the Kona electric driving around town, instead of marketing the car. The EV-cult knows this car is coming out; they are waiting for a charismatic, well-built, high-mileage EV. Getting free electricity would push the money envelope into the coiffeurs of Hyundai sales instead of TV ads. Hyundai already gives an energy budget for the Hyundai Ioniq, they know how to make this work.

The one challenge that Hyundai would have is that this vehicle could be used as an Uber vehicle. It is a functional SUV with abundant cargo space and fold-down seats that can go 258 miles on one charge. Hyundai will have to put a cap on the amount of energy it will give away for free because of this issue. An Uber driver in an electric SUV might be the best advertising Hyundai could get for their marketing dollars. It’s just a thought Hyundai, but FREE is a compelling word. People with money know how to keep their money.

Hyundai has its own steel company and uses tailored pieces of steel specifically placed for maximum safety. There is a lot more space for storage in the center console area; the shifter has been replaced by buttons for the Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive. There are three modes of travel; comfort, eco, and sport calibrated for the accelerator and steering boost response connected to a permanent-magnet motor that delivers 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque. There are also three levels of regenerative braking with the third being the most aggressive.

While there is not an all-wheel drive in the gasoline or electric version, the Kona Ultimate has Adaptive Cruise Control (the gasoline version does not have it). Of course, the best part of an electric car is the low-end torque and constant torque, especially on the curves of the blue-watered California coast with the clean air.

Hyundai is hitting the EV Federal credit just right, Tesla and Chevy are all selling their ZEV vehicles and will soon run out of the Federal $7,500 credit. Nissan will probably run out of their federal credit in another year or so. Hyundai’s EV Federal credits are coming in at just the right time, assuming the Federal government doesn’t take that credit away.

There are three Model Trim Levels for the front-wheel-drive Kona electric with direct drive that gets 132 city / 108 highway / 120 combined mpg:
SE
Limited
Ultimate
Prices have not been announced, but I would expect it to be below the Chevy Bolt.

Dave Stall and I talked about the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric vehicle and the Hyundai Nexo fuel cell vehicle. Both Stall and I have solar panels, so we don’t pay for electricity, and with an electric car, we will not buy gasoline either. Imagine, WE DON’T CARE WHAT THE PRICE OF GASOLINE IS. WE DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT THE PRICE OF GASOLINE!

Initially, the Kona electric will be sold in California then States that follow the California Air Resources Board (CARB) ZEV regulations, then Space and Beyond! (oh, sorry that was Tesla, the Kona will just go to the rest of the United States)

2019 Kona Electric Highlights

Technology & Connectivity

7” Display Audio and 8” Navigation System with EV Technology Display
Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay™
Next Generation Blue Link® with Remote Charge Access
Infinity® Premium Audio with Clari-Fi® Music Restoration Technology
Heads-up DisplayWireless Device Charging
Shift-by-Wire
Qi Wireless-device charging

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and the Concept Car of the Year, and former member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year #NACTOY. She is a guest contributor for Via Corsa magazine and Vicarious magazine.

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