Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Hyundai, Kia Motors to develop new solar charging tech for vehicles



(Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS) are planning to launch a solar charging technology for some Hyundai vehicles to meet global emission regulation targets, the South Korean automakers said on Wednesday.
Solar panels will be mounted on the roof or hood of the vehicles, the companies said.
The companies are launching three solar charging systems for several types of vehicles, including hybrid and battery electric.
Several countries have in recent years set ambitious goals to cut carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, bringing carmakers and truckmakers under greater scrutiny.
Hyundai is set to launch the first generation of the technology for its vehicles after 2019.
The one we'll see first will exist on hybrids. This tech involves adding silicon solar panels to a regular ol' car roof. Hyundai and Kia estimate that this solar roof can add between 30 and 60 percent of a battery's capacity over the course of a day -- weather depending, obviously. Considering hybrids have the smallest batteries of all, this is a good place to start.
But the second-generation system will bring solar-based charging to a class of vehicle not normally pegged for this kind of tech -- cars with traditional internal combustion engines. Here, a semi-transparent solar panel can be added to a panoramic sunroof, boosting a vehicle's battery while still letting light into the cabin. It's unclear if these cars will pack slightly larger batteries, or if the panel will merely take some load off the alternator, but Hyundai and Kia say the tech will help the company comply with future emissions standards.
The third-generation system is the furthest out. This one benefits battery-electric vehicles, and it adds solar panels to both the vehicle's roof, as well as its hood. That would give EVs even more solar-panel real estate to convert to energy for batteries, extending range and reducing reliance on grid power, which could come from dirtier sources.
Hyundai and Kia estimate that their first-generation solar roof tech will reach vehicles in 2019, but timelines for the second and third generation have not yet been announced. If this tech can produce tangible benefits, I wouldn't expect this tech to stay limited to just Hyundai and Kia for long.

Oak Ridge Inches Closer to 15-Minute Wireless EV Charging

ORNL researchers used computer simulations to design coils that generate the magnetic field required for wireless power transfer.

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have developed wireless charging technology that they say could fill up a typical electric car today in under an hour. This represents a six-fold improvement over a similar wireless charging system they announced in 2016. That plugless EV charging technology, they report, is now being modified for commercial applications including delivery trucks.
And the team isn’t done, says Burak Ozpineci, leader of Oak Ridge’s Power Electronics and Electric Machinery group. They are, he says, working toward the larger goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) to build a portfolio of rapid, safe, and easy electric vehicle charging systems—which would, as the DoE’s 2016 mandate put it, “accelerate electric vehicle adoption in the United States.”
The idea is to increase the power throughput of their present system by another factor of three—bringing the total charge time for an empty electric vehicle (EV) battery to under 15 minutes. All without needing to plug anything in to the car or really do anything other than drive the EV over a wireless charging plate embedded in the concrete.
The Energy Department’s mandate, Ozpineci says, didn’t specify whether such systems should be wired or wireless. But he adds, “Our expertise is in the wireless side. So we said, we’ll do the wireless part.”
While artists' concepts today depict filling station-like EV pumps that dispense a torrent of electrons like petroleum 2.0, wireless EV charging potentially represents more than just a new source of automotive fuel. Like the wireless Internet revolution of 20 to 30 years ago, wireless EV power could change more than just a car’s power source. Some futurists have seen wireless power playing a role in the rise of the "smart city" and the demise of the gas station.
Ozpineci says two key elements of their 97 percent efficiency, 120-kilowatt wireless charging technology concern the material they made it from and the coil that transmits and receives the electric power. They presented details, which will soon be published on the IEEE Xplore database, at IEEE’s Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition in September.
To beam wireless power from a floor unit to a power receiver unit in an EV, separated by some six inches of open air, means rapidly oscillating the electric and magnetic fields in the coil, inducing similar behavior in the receiving coil in the EV. Practically speaking, Ozpineci says, that means pumping out 120 kilowatts through oscillating currents at some 22,000 cycles per second (i.e. 22 kHz).
“The problem is typically we have silicon devices, and when we go to higher power levels, you cannot run them at higher switching frequencies,” he says. “At 10 kilowatts, you can switch at 20 kilohertz. But when you go up to 100 kilowatts and beyond, you have to reduce your switching frequency—because of thermal issues, because of the device response, because of a number of things.”
But transferring higher power levels at high efficiency demands higher switching frequencies. So this effectively means both swapping out silicon for more robust (and more expensive) silicon carbide and strengthening the coils on both sending and receiving ends of the power exchange.
Tesla’s Model 3 also uses silicon carbide electronics, Ozpineci says. So the Oak Ridge technology’s reliance on the material is not unprecedented in EV systems. On the other hand, they admit their 100-pound coil needs some refining and optimizing before it could ever be scaled out into a production-quality design.
Then, they must produce three times more power from their design to reach the Energy Department’s 350 to 400 kilowatt target. Ozpineci says it’s a work in progress, but he suspects there will have to be multiple power modules in any 350-kW or more wireless supercharger.
electronics for the wireless charging
“We’re able to use single power modules,” he says of the current 120-kW unit. “We’re at the limit or almost at the limit of these power modules. When you go to anything beyond that, we’ll have to either parallel these modules, or we have to have two inverters in parallel. And when you do that, you have a lot more challenges of running these things in sync.”
Ozpineci says his group is also working on a feasibility study of so-called dynamic EV charging—in which embedded wires in a road surface can charge a car as it’s driving down that road.
“Many groups in the world have looked at it, but most have looked at it for lower power,” he says. “Like 20 kilowatts. But we’re not limiting ourselves to 20 kilowatts. Do we need 100 kilowatts, do we need 120 kilowatts, do we need higher? Whatever results we get out of this, DoE might fund a demonstration.”

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Electric Chevrolet eCOPO Camaro only burns rubber









Chevrolet is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its legendary COPO Camaro special with an electric drag car that points the way toward a battery-powered future.
The eCOPO Camaro concept has had its V8 engine traded for a twin electric motor pack that generates 700 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque.
Chevy says the eCOPO can do the quarter-mile in under 10 seconds, which is lightning quick. Unlike many electric cars that use direct drive, this one is a true swap with the motors installed under the hood and connected to the COPO’s three-speed automatic transmission.
Four battery packs weighing 175 pounds each are mounted near the back of the rear-wheel-drive car to give it better traction off the line and use next-gen 800-watt technology, twice what today’s electric cars use, for quicker charging and discharging.
Although GM is planning to offer 20 electric cars by 2023, it isn't putting the eCOPO on sale, but hints that a crate electric motor kit like it has could be offered in the coming years.
The NHRA praised the project, saying it “has been discussing and exploring how electric cars are evolving to determine how they will shape the future of drag racing. The new COPO Camaro is an exciting development in that process.”
The 2019 COPO Camaro’s available 50th Anniversary Special Edition package marks a half-century of special-order high-performance from Chevrolet.
The 2019 COPO Camaro’s available 50th Anniversary Special Edition package marks a half-century of special-order high-performance from Chevrolet.
In the meantime, Chevy is offering a new conventional COPO Camaro for 2019. It’ll build 69 of them, just like it did in 1969, and is offering the street-illegal racers with a choice of three V8s that include a naturally-aspirated 302 small block, a 350 with a Magnuson supercharger and a 427 dressed in a vintage appearance package with orange engine block, chrome valve covers and a black intake manifold.
The 1969 COPO Camaro was a special-order performer. Only 69 were built with the all-aluminum ZL1 427 Big Block engine.
The 1969 COPO Camaro was a special-order performer. Only 69 were built with the all-aluminum ZL1 427 Big Block engine.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

New BMW 330e iPerformance Coming In 2019 With More Electric Range


BMW 330e to get electric range increased by a third.

BMW unveiled at the 2018 Paris Motor Show its all-new 3 Series Sedan (ICE), which will hit the market on March 9, 2019. At first, there will be available only conventional versions (320i, 330i, 318d, 320d, 320xDrive and 330d), but the new 330e iPerformance plug-in hybrid should be ready in summer 2019 (in the U.S. in 2020).
According to BMW, the new 330e will be able to drive up to 60 km (37 miles) in all-electric mode, which is a third more than the current version. Because the current version is rated by EPA at 14 miles (22.5 km) on 7.6 kWh battery, we assume that the new version will be rated at maybe 19 miles (30 km).
System output to be 185 kW (215 kW with a boost) and 0-100 km/h (62 mph) will take about 6.0 seconds, which sounds the same as the current generation.
2020 BMW 330e iPerformance specs:
  • up to 60 km (37 miles) in all-electric range
  • our EPA range estimation: 19 miles (30 km) – a third more than current EPA at 14 miles (22.5 km) on 7.6 kWh battery
  • system output to be 185 kW (215 kW in a XtraBoost mode)
  • eight-speed Steptronic transmission
  • 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.0 seconds




The Global Wireless Car charging market is expected to reach at USD 6.0 Billion by the end of 2021


The global wireless car charging market is segmented into application such as power electric and hybrid cars. Among these segments, power electric or electric vehicle segment is anticipated to witness considerable growth during the forecast period. Factors such as lack of potential of electric vehicles to run for long distance and need to charge them at intervals are fuelling the demand for wireless car charging. Moreover, wireless car charging technology will allow electric vehicles to charge while running.
Global Wireless car charging market is expected to flourish at a notable CAGR over the forecast period. Moreover, the global wireless car charging market is expected to reach at USD 6.0 Billion by the end of 2021. Increasing sales of electric vehicles and technological advancements in electric vehicles are some of the major factors which are envisioned to foster the growth of market during the forecast period.
Geographically, Europe wireless car charging market is anticipated to thrive during the forecast period. Government support, falling battery cost and increasing sales of electric vehicles are likely to be the key factors behind the growth of wireless car charging market over the forecast period. Moreover, driving and usage benefits in Europe region such as preferential parking permits in dense urban areas and permission to drive in bus and taxi lanes and save considerable time during rush hours are increasing the sales of electric vehicles which in turn likely to foster the growth of wireless car charging market in Europe region.
Technological Advancement in Charging Technology
Inability of electric vehicles to run for longer distance as they need to charge at intervals is a key factor which is expected to fuel the growth of wireless car charging market in near future.
Favourable Government Initiatives and Programmes
Various government initiatives to increase the sales of electric vehicles for instance, china is looking forward to ban combustion engine vehicles to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles are anticipated to bolster the growth of global wireless car charging market in near future.Request Free Sample
Although, lack of availability of standardized wireless car charging system and low adoption rate of electric vehicles in underdeveloped countries are some of the factors which are expected to hinder the growth of the wireless car charging market in the near future.
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This report also provides the existing competitive scenario of some of the key players of the global wireless car charging market which includes company profiling of Evatran Group, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., WiTricity Corporation, and HEVO Power. Some other prominent vendors that may enter into manufacturing of wireless car charging are Continental AG, Ford Motor Company, BMW Automobile Company, Nissan Motor Company Ltd. and Bosch Group. The profiling enfolds key information of the companies which encompasses business overview, products and services, key financials and recent news and developments. On the whole, the report depicts detailed overview of the global wireless car charging market that will help industry consultants, equipment manufacturers, existing players searching for expansion opportunities, new players searching possibilities and other stakeholders to align their market centric strategies according to the ongoing and expected trends in the future.

Dyson Gets Swept Up in Electric-Vehicle Revolution


Dyson Ltd. has selected Singapore as the manufacturing hub for its first electric car. It’s a significant move in a number of ways: Dyson doesn’t yet make automobiles; it will base production in a city where no automobile manufacturing plants currently exist; and Singapore has a population of only 6 million and isn’t much of an auto market. But founder James Dyson’s comments — and the company’s product paths to date — could hint at the future of electric transport.
My first thought: Labor costs don’t seem to matter that much to the company. Singapore is hardly cheap, and if the priority was to be in Asia but not China, then other countries in Southeast Asia would fit that bill.
My second thought: Starting from a purely electric drivetrain puts the company’s “center of gravity” (in James Dyson’s own words) on new supply chains. Chief Executive Officer Jim Rowan said in a note to staff that the Singapore decision is “based on supply chains” and that “the availability of the expertise” there will be helpful to the company. That expertise, though, isn’t automotive: It’s in batteries, electronics and motors (rather than engines). A moving supply chain doesn’t exempt the company from the various automotive “hells” that Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk is so fond of talking about — production and delivery are still crucial! — but a purely electric platform does create new possibilities, just as it did years ago for Tesla.
My third thought: Dyson’s experience with its vacuum product line shows us how much batteries and motors can improve in a relatively short period of time. With the launch of its latest handheld model, the V10, Dyson said it will no longer make vacuums with a cord, claiming that cordless models are as good as, or better than, ones that plug in. Twelve years ago, the company’s “digital motor” weighed about one-third of a pound and produced 85 air watts of suction power; today, the motor weighs a little more than a quarter of a pound and has more than three times the power at 290 air watts.
Lighter and more efficient systems like this are category creators. That combination of power in the battery and output in the motor allow the creation of a cordless vacuum. Improve them further, and that same system becomes a category killer: It kills off the incumbent offering — in this case, the corded vacuum models offered by the same company. It’s worth thinking about how this will play out in transportation. Which company will be the first to switch from making one or a few electric vehicle models (with two, three or four wheels) to making only electric vehicles?
Final thought: Just like a vacuum, an electric car is in its own way a cleaner, too. Every electric vehicle on the road means one less source of street-level emissions. Electric vehicles are also, in their way, self-cleaning in a way that internal combustion engines aren’t. As the emissions intensity of power generation in an electricity grid falls, so do the emissions associated with charging an EV. Take Denmark, the U.K. and Finland and their declining carbon emissions from power generation: An electric vehicle plugged into the U.K.’s electricity grid in 2013 had twice as much carbon dioxide emissions per unit of electricity generated as it does today. Over four years, the same vehicle is responsible for half the emissions it once was, without the vehicle itself changing at all.

Friday, 26 October 2018

esla registers 13.6k new Mid Range Model 3 VINs after posting blockbuster earnings

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The arrival of the Mid Range Model 3 came as a surprise for the vehicle’s reservation holders, particularly since the variant has not been announced prior to its launch. When the Model 3 was unveiled, Tesla had listed two RWD variants of the vehicle - a 220-mile Standard range version that starts at $35,000 and a 310-mile Long Range variant that starts at $49,000. The Mid Range Model 3, which has a range of 260 miles per charge, cost $45,000 when it was unveiled, though the price of the electric sedan was raised to $46,000 earlier this week.

The Mid Range Model 3 appears to be Tesla’s way of offering a lower-cost option for reservation holders who are holding out for the release of the $35,000 base Model 3. After the $7,500 tax credit and estimated gas savings, after all, the Mid Range Model 3’s cost of ownership falls to around $33,200. Elon Musk referenced the newly-announced Model 3 variant in the recently-held earnings call

“We’re trying to provide (the) most affordable electric car options that we can. And so as we can - we just don’t have the ability to get to the $35,000 car right away. We thought this might be a way to offer it as an intermediate step. And that’s really it,” Musk said.

Considering the new wave of RWD VIN registrations, as well as the vehicle’s $1,000 price increase just days after it was released, it appears that the demand for the Mid Range Model 3 is quite notable. Since Elon Musk announced the car on Twitter, for one, Tesla had registered more than 18,000 RWD Model 3 VINs. Considering that the Long Range RWD variant is only available off-menu for now, it seems safe to infer that the majority of the vehicles corresponding to Tesla’s new VIN filings are Mid Range Model 3s.


While Tesla delivered a blockbuster third quarter, the company’s fourth-quarter performance seems poised to be even more impressive. This Q4, Gigafactory 1 is expected to receive upgrades in the form of new Grohmann Machines that would make battery pack production cheaper and faster, as well as upgraded battery cell production lines from Panasonic. In terms of VIN registrations, October seems poised to set records for the company, with Tesla registering more than 51,000 VINs since the month began. 

What is even more impressive is that Tesla is only partly done with its Model 3 production ramp, considering that the company is aiming to hit a production rate of 10,000 units of the electric car per week. Elon Musk proved optimistic about the ongoing ramp for the vehicle, though, as shown in his statements during the recent earnings call. 

“Yeah, very minimal to get (Model 3 production) to 7,000 a week. And then I mean that’s really just basically solving improving our time of the existing lines, and we can do 7,000 a week. So and then it gets a little harder as you start to go above 7,000, it would need - at least bringing lines down in Fremont for significant upgrades to get to 10k,” Musk said.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Volvo buys a stake in electric charging firm FreeWire

GP: Volvo Logo Geneva motorshow
Swedish luxury vehicles company Volvo Cars has bought a stake in FreeWire Technologies, a California-based electric car charging business. 

The acquisition has been made through the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, which was launched earlier this year. In an announcement Wednesday, Volvo described FreeWire as a “pioneer in flexible fast charging technology for electric cars.” 

Volvo becomes the latest major business to take an interest in FreeWire. In January 2018, BP Ventures announced it was investing $5 million in the business. 

From 2019, every new car that Volvo launches is set to be electrified. The business wants fully-electric cars to account for 50 percent of overall global sales by the year 2025. 

“To support wider consumer adoption of electric cars, society needs to make charging an electric car as simple as filling up your tank,” Zaki Fasihuddin, the Volvo Cars Tech Fund CEO, said in a statement. “Our investment in FreeWire is a firm endorsement of the company’s ambitions in this area.” 

In 2017, there were more than 3 million electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the planet’s roads, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Global Electric Vehicles Outlook. This represents an increase of 54 percent compared to 2016. 

Almost 580,000 electric cars were sold in China last year, according to the IEA, while around 280,000 were sold in the U.S. 

In terms of charging infrastructure, the IEA says that, globally, there were an estimated 3 million private chargers at homes and workplaces in 2017. The number of “publicly accessible” chargers amounted to roughly 430,000.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Dyson to build electric car in Singapore, aiming at China


Dyson, the British company best known for vacuum cleaners and prized hair dryers, said Tuesday it will build its new electric car in Singapore as it joins the increasingly crowded race to create the next generation of clean vehicles.
The bespoke manufacturing facility is due for completion in 2020 and is part of a 2.5 billion pound ($3.2 billion) investment in new technology globally.
Dyson did not say what kind of a car it hoped to produce, or how many a year. But it is set to at least try to get a foothold in the electric car industry, where visionaries like Elon Musk at Tesla have struggled to translate ideas into profits.
Other car makers also are ramping up their investments in electric cars, but there's no clear front-runner in the field, said David Bailey, a professor of industrial strategy at Aston Business School.
Bailey guessed that Dyson would shoot for a premium product — aiming at Tesla, BMW or Jaguar. Given Tesla's challenges, it is likely to not be simple — particularly since Dyson doesn't have the infrastructure other carmakers do, he said.
"I do think they underestimate the scale of the challenge," he said.
The location in Singapore would put Dyson close to the big and growing Chinese market, where carmakers are increasingly focusing sales. The country is preparing a big shift to electric cars to fight its heavy levels of pollution and to modernize the economy.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Caterpillar gets in electric-car business with Fisker investment


Fisker

Fisker Inc. has been touting its continued pursuits and advancements related to future solid-state battery developments and applications. Even aside from solid-state breakthroughs, the automaker is reportedly pushing the envelope on battery capacity in general. Now, the global leader in manufacturing of construction equipment — Caterpillar — has decided to jump on board with plans for the future.

Currently, Caterpillar deals with construction and mining equipment that are primarily diesel-powered, although it does have its hands in diesel-electric locomotives. With Fisker’s future insight and goals, the construction company could be able to apply solid-state battery tech in multiple areas, including construction, energy storage, transportation, and mining.
Eventually, the growing consensus is that solid-state batteries could be the next big thing. With numerous and varied battery breakthroughs being announced on a regular basis, it’s hard to say exactly what may happen regarding the technology. However, of all the upcoming possibilities, solid-state seems to continue its reign as the clear the front-runner, at least in the hypothetical. Still, as far as reports and progress go, it may still be a long time before the battery tech is in regular production.
The fact that a globally recognized and hugely successful company like Caterpillar is already getting on board is even more convincing. Cross your fingers, folks. No matter how this deal plays out or how battery-electric vehicles are faring in the interim, the best is surely yet to come.
To be clear, the announced investment comes by way of Caterpillar Venture Capital Inc., which is an obvious subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc. and in financial support of future developments.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Porsche confirms a Taycan wagon is coming

Porsche on Friday confirmed its Mission E Cross Turismo concept for production as an alternative body style for the Taycan electric liftback sedan.
The Mission E Cross Turismo concept made its debut in March at the 2018 Geneva auto show and is in the form of a rugged, high-riding wagon, known as a soft-roader in automotive parlance.
It isn't clear if the production version will follow the soft-roader route or simply be a standard wagon option for the Taycan, akin to Porsche's Panamera Sport Turismo wagon.
It's possible we see both given Porsche's penchant for launching multiple derivatives of a single product line. A Taycan Targa is also rumored to be in the works.
Porsche also hasn't said when to expect any Taycan wagon but a likely bet is in 2020. Production of the sedan is scheduled to start in 2019.
The performance specs of the two body styles should be similar, if not identical. This means potential buyers can look forward to at least one version of the Taycan wagon to offer over 600 horsepower and 300 miles of range. An 800-volt electrical system will also enable 80 percent charges in 15-20 minutes, when using a 350-kilowatt charger.
Production of Porsche's electric cars will take place at a new facility set up at the automaker's main plant in Zuffenhausen, Germany. Porsche on Monday said it would recruit 1,200 staff and invest close to $7 billion for its various electric car programs running through to 2022.

Audi to pay 800 million euro fine in Germany over diesel cheating

2013 Audi TDI range
FRANKFURT: Volkswagen said Tuesday its subsidiary Audi had agreed to pay an 800-million-euro (US$927 million) fine issued by German prosecutors to close a diesel cheating investigation.
“Audi AG has accepted the fine” investigators levied for “deviations from regulatory requirements in certain V6 and V8 diesel aggregates (motors) and diesel vehicles”, the group said in a statement, adding that “the fine will directly affect Volkswagen AG’s financial earnings” for 2018.
“The administrative proceeding against Audi AG opened because of the diesel scandal is hereby closed in a legally binding way,” Munich prosecutors said in their own statement.
Tuesday’s fine comes on top of total costs in fines, buybacks and refits of more than 27 billion euros that Volkswagen has had to pay out over its “dieselgate” scandal.
The Wolfsburg-based group’s 2018 earnings suffered another one-billion-euro blow in June when it agreed to pay a similar fine levied by Brunswick prosecutors over its own-brand vehicles.
VW admitted in 2015 to building so-called “defeat devices” into 11 million cars worldwide.
Such software allowed the vehicles to appear to meet regulatory emissions requirements under lab conditions, while in fact spewing many times more harmful gases like nitrogen oxides (NOx) on the road.
Investigators pursued Audi over V6 and V8 engines it built into its own vehicles, VW’s own-brand cars and models from fellow subsidiary Porsche, as well as over Audi vehicles fitted with cheating VW-built motors.
In total, the case dealt with almost five million cars worldwide built between 2004 and 2018.
While the probe against Audi as a company is now closed, other cases against managers and executives from the VW group — up to and including former chief executive Martin Winterkorn — remain open, with charges including fraud, false advertising and failure to keep investors informed.
At Audi, former chief executive Rupert Stadler was removed from his post by VW earlier this month.
Prosecutors had jailed him in June, saying this was necessary to stop him trying to influence witnesses.
Shares in Volkswagen plummeted in the moments after the announcement of the fine Tuesday, but quickly bounced back to gain 2.6% at 148.14 euros around 11.30am (0930 GMT), topping the DAX index of blue-chip German shares.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Hyundai zaps the funky Kona, creating an electric car with segment leading range

General Motors hyped the Chevrolet Bolt EV for years, promising (and delivering) an affordable long-range electric vehicle made for the masses. By contrast, Hyundai’s muted debut of the superior 2019 Kona Electric allowed this impressive electric vehicle to sneak up on everybody.
Why use superlatives to describe the Kona Electric? How does 258 miles of range sound?
That’s more than the Chevy Bolt EV, and lots more than the Nissan Leaf, even the one with the optional battery. But, you’re going to need to live in a place where EVs are popular and where zero-emission vehicle mandates are in place, because the Kona Electric is not a 50-state vehicle. At least, not yet.
Unfortunately for many Americans interested in owning a long-range electric car, global demand for this little guy is hot, and Hyundai can only send so many of them to the U.S. market. They start arriving early in 2019, with pricing to be set closer to their arrival.
It has no grille, for example. Instead, a subtle mesh graphic gives the car’s body-color face some texture. Designers also added lower body and lighting detail inspired by electrical circuitry. And, of course, aerodynamic wheel designs are present and accounted for. The aim was to give the Kona Electric a ‘solid-state’ look and feel, according to Hyundai.
Inside, the Kona’s shifter and console are gone, replaced by a bridge console design with electronic shift-by-wire transmission controls. I wasn’t a fan of the transmission buttons, but I also spent no more than an hour driving the Kona Electric. Perhaps owners will acclimate and, ultimately, have no trouble with the design.
Unique instrumentation conveys data about the electric drivetrain, and the Kona Electric comes with special Blue Link services related to vehicle charging, cabin pre-conditioning, finding charging stations, and more. Impressively, Blue Link services are free for three years, and the Kona Electric in Limited or Ultimate trim comes with an 8-speaker Infinity premium sound system with Clari-Fi music restoration technology.
Three trim levels are available: SEL, Limited, and Ultimate. The test vehicle had Ultimate trim, including leather-wrapped, heated and ventilated front seats as well as a heated steering wheel. Front seat comfort was good, but as is true of the standard Kona, the rear seat is tight for adults.
Cargo space measures 19.2 cubic feet behind the rear seat, more than any vehicle in the segment except for the Nissan Leaf. The Kona’s rear seat folds flat in order to expand utility.
What differentiates the Kona Electric is its engineering. This is a long-range electric vehicle, built to travel 258 miles on a full battery charge. By eliminating the phenomenon known as “range anxiety,” which is that sense of dread EV owners feel when their battery is running low on juice and it’s not a certainty that they’ll make it home, Hyundai makes the Kona Electric mighty appealing.
A liquid-cooled, 64 kWh lithium-ion battery with a lifetime warranty powers a 150 kW electric motor. Total system output measures 201 horsepower and 291 lb.-ft. of torque, which is plenty to motivate the Kona Electric’s 3,800-pound curb weight. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 7.6 seconds, the car can achieve a top speed of 104 mph, and the EPA estimates it will get 120 MPGe in combined driving.
One pedal driving is possible using the left steering wheel paddle. Pull and hold, and the car generates 0.25g of regenerative deceleration force, activating the brake lights and bringing the Kona Electric to a stop. An Auto Hold button on the center console will then keep the car still until it’s time to go again.
FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. "LIKE" US HThree Drive Mode Select settings are available: Eco, Normal, and Sport. Eco maximizes regenerative coasting, while Sport emphasizes speedy acceleration. If you press and hold the Drive Mode Select button, you can activate the Eco+ setting, which is designed to maximize range for those times when you may be fretting about how much juice is left in the battery.
When the time comes to recharge the car, pop open the SAE combination port on the Kona Electric’s grille and plug it in. Fast-charging compatibility is standard for this car, allowing it to soak up an 80% battery charge in less than an hour. If the car is programmed to charge only when electricity rates are lower, you can quickly and easily override this using a button on the port.
Charging overnight using a 240-volt home charging station, the Kona Electric goes from no charge to full charge in less than 10 hours. You can also plug the car into a standard household electrical outlet, but that will naturally take much longer in terms of recharging time.
Stomp on the Kona Electric’s accelerator pedal, and this EV gleefully spins its front tires. Even when dipping less aggressively into the power, I still had trouble maximizing traction. No doubt, this car’s owners are going to have a blast surprising their fair share of fellow drivers with the EV’s impressive acceleration, but the Kona Electric would be even more fun if it had all-wheel drive.
With nearly 1,000 pounds of battery nestled within the Kona Electric’s chassis, and the necessary structural and safety upgrades required for it, it should come as no surprise to learn that this EV drives like a slot car, as though it is magnetized to the road. Standard 17-inch wheels with 215/55 tires help, but the main contributor to this sensation is the car’s dense mass for its size coupled with its low center of gravity.
Choppy best describes the Kona Electric’s ride and handling, though, even with its sophisticated MacPherson strut front and multi-link independent rear suspension. Hyundai says it tuned the car’s components specifically for “refined body movement on a variety of surfaces,” but on anything but smooth pavement the car rocked and rolled.
Switching from Hyundai’s Nexo fuel-cell electric vehicle into the Kona Electric, I found the steering to be a little rubbery. Torque steer under acceleration, combined with an eagerness to return to center, helped to magnify this impression. However, with more time at the helm I’d bet this sensation would fade.
Driven in Eco mode, the regenerative coasting is rather aggressive. Driven in Sport mode, the Kona Electric’s accelerator pedal is almost too responsive. That’s why I preferred Normal mode.
I also preferred using the one-pedal driving function. In my opinion, it adds greater driver involvement in the act of driving, in the same way a manual gearbox does in a gasoline car. You need to learn when to use it by knowing your speed and gauging distances, and it’s an enjoyable challenge to bring the Kona Electric to a stop without leaving a big gap or needing to use the brake pedal.
A Chevrolet Bolt EV in LT trim and equipped with DC Fast Charging and both Driver Confidence Packages (all of the driver assistance and collision avoidance technology that comes standard on the Kona Electric) is priced at $39,790.
A Nissan Leaf in SV 40 kWh trim with a Technology Package (safety tech) runs $35,575 – and that’s the price with the standard battery and 108 fewer miles of range in comparison to the Kona Electric.
Let’s not forget the Tesla Model 3, promised to start at around $35,000 and still unavailable in bare bones, standard-battery specification. Considering that Tesla must start winding down the federal tax credits that help to make EVs more affordable, the shapely Model 3 isn’t quite as competitive as it might have been.
My guess is that the Kona Electric will start at around $38,000 in SEL trim, rising to $44,000 in Ultimate trim. Hyundai will want the car to remain competitive with the more powerful version of the Leaf that’s coming soon, while delivering a clear value proposal in comparison to the well-known Chevrolet.
Having driven all three of these vehicles, that guesstimated strategy would work well. The Nissan Leaf is OK, amounting to a half-hearted upgrade to an older and rather awkward design. The Chevy Bolt EV looks and feels futuristic, clearly different from any other car in the company’s lineup – and in a good way.
Hyundai’s scrappy new Kona Electric is a clean and green version of an existing car, but it delivers the best driving range and potentially the best value in what many people might consider to be the best-looking package.