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Hyundai shows how to turn a 258-mile EV into a normal experience.

When I put myself behind the wheel of the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric for our first trip the Hyundai Battery crossover last week, my first task was to check the available range. With 13 out of 16 bars on the dash, the vehicle computer estimated 220 miles for our half-day trip on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

Let's take a break to look at that number. It's more than four times the distance needed for the 50-mile drive through the hills of Topanga Canyon and the streets of Santa Monica and West Hollywood. "The highlight of Kona Electric is its range," said Gil Castillo, Hyundai's senior group manager for alternative vehicle strategies. Castillo was traveling with us in L.A. He added, "Because of its reach, the average consumer does not have to compromise."

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

The Kona is not a specially designed electric car, but a conventional vehicle that replaces the messy, inefficient combustion bits with an electric powertrain. The benefits of this exchange were obvious when I switched the car from normal to sport mode – and cranked the accelerator pedal. The wheels chirped, turned for split seconds, and the Kona started at breakneck speed.

Because of its reach, the average consumer does not have to compromise.

There is no lack of power in the Kona EV, which provides 291 foot-pounds of torque to twist the tire, turning the low-conditioning Kona crossover into a compact SUV, turning the curvy LA hills into a slalom course. The instant torque of the electric motor was similarly evident as he climbed the ramp to Highway 101, a shock that felt much faster than the official Kona EV's zero-to-60 count of 7.6 seconds.

Asked about the attributes that Hyundai wanted to highlight with the Kona EV, Hyundai's Vice President for Product Planning Mike O & Brbienne focused less on impressive performance freaks than on the approach of average commuters. "We wanted to maintain a good interior space for passengers with cargo and passenger space, and at the same time, our goal was to be in the top class with a range of 258 miles," said O & M Brien.

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

He boasted that Kona EV is beating him Chevy Bolt 238 range – and lands between the upcoming $ 35,000 220-mile version of the Tesla model 3 this is expected next year and the longer-term, more expensive 310-mile Tesla Model 3, which is now on sale. "We wanted to find the best balance between range, size and performance," O & Brien said. "Kona Electric will allow people to displace a gasoline vehicle in their household, not just an extra vehicle."

The Kona EV is not flashy, but it's handy.

If you are looking for our first ride to reveal some Tesla– like novelty – maybe a minimalist dashboard design or over-the-air magic software – you'll be disappointed. It's a Hyundai, people. The cabin is what you'll find in a value-driven, small front-wheel drive crossover. We do not know the price of the Kona EV yet, but the gas version of the Kona starts at around $ 20,000 – after government and government incentives, Kona Electric could fall below $ 30,000.

The body design – in addition to using a power front bezel (with a point for the charging port) instead of an open radiator grille – is largely like its gasoline counterpart. The handling of the car and the feel of the steering wheel were not modified for a connection to the road or to let adrenaline flow. In other words, the Kona Electric looks and feels like a good, competent, and accessible crossover for every day that happens to be a battery-powered, long-range vehicle. Does not that deserve at least a quiet "Amen"?

Kona Electric deserves an award for the best EV ever converted from an internal combustion engine.

As we reached the Pacific Coast Highway and headed east through Santa Monica, rush hour traffic began to rain. The Kona will initially be sold only in California, where most of its buyers will experience the same stupid jams as we do. The bulk of our Hyundai Kona Electric 2019 half-day trip last week was in stop-and-go traffic.

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

At first I wondered why Hyundai decided against a full open road location for the first Kona EV media event. But when we climbed forward for almost an hour, with no effect on the estimated remaining range, I saw the election of L. A. as a bold move. While the whole industry is trying to emulate Tesla's "EVs are cool" means, Hyundai has us in the crushing traffic of a fuel-efficient SUV offset to show us how normal a long-range electric car can be.

If the Kona EV does not burn, we should not criticize too fast. The launch of Hyundai's first long-range electric vehicle follows last year's release of the Ioniq, a special electrified platform with a fully electric 124-mile version. The Kona should be viewed as a two-target mid-stream course correction: launching a 250-mile EV and shifting Hyundai's electric ambitions into the ultra-popular crossover segment.

In the existing Kona model Hyundai found room for the EV drivetrain.

"Kona Electric is an intermediate for Hyundai," said Sam Abuelsamid, Senior Research Analyst at Navigant Research. "When they launched the Ioniq range, range, battery size and weight specifications, they did not yet have the Tesla Model 3 or the Chevy Bolt, the Ioniq was already locked up, so they probably thought," What else can we do to reach this next level of reach? "

Hyundai Castillo shed light on this hypothesis. He told us that Hyundai had done a lot of research to determine the range of reach that would drive average consumers to consider an electric car. "Two hundred miles is very much the turning point," he said. "Consumers are looking at big intervals and 200 is a magic number, it does not matter after 300. At 250 to 300 miles away, everyone is concentrated."

In this regard, the reasonable comfort of the Kona EV, the familiar dashboard configurations and the exceptional exterior styling are less important than Hyundai, as an existing crossover model is used to increase the range. Kona Electric deserves an award for the best EV ever converted from an internal combustion engine.

Remember the first generation of conversions, such as the Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500e and Smart Electric? They could barely make room for about 20 kilowatt-hours of batteries before they compromise the cargo space or other functions. Fast forward to today, and Hyundai is now able to install a honking 64kWh package without sacrificing comfort. "If we take the idea that this is an intermediate product, Hyundai did it very well, especially considering that it is a conversion of an ICE vehicle," said Abuelsamid.

Paddle Shifters control the braking resistors for Kona Electric.

Each new electric car will not be a custom built electrical nameplate. How else can electric cars reach a critical mass? The fact that Hyundai was able to beat the Bolt, which is a special EV, with 20 miles more range, should be viewed as a breakthrough. The Kona also has legitimate crossover dimensions – almost three meters more cargo than the bolt and a few inches more shoulder space.

Missed opportunities

Nonetheless, I was disappointed that Hyundai did not make it easier for drivers to access one-pedal driving. The Kona EV has four brake rain levels, each controlled by a pair of steering wheel paddles and displayed by small arrows on the dashboard. However, if you do not set the vehicle to the highest level and hold the left paddle, the Kona EV will continue to move forward. On our ride, I gave up squeezing the paddle with each stop and resorted to friction brakes.

In the meantime, Hyundai has created an "Economy Plus" mode, which is activated by holding down the Economy button for a few seconds. It has little effect on acceleration and braking, but has disabled the auxiliary functions in the car such as AC and limited the maximum speed of the vehicle. I suppose a long ride in Economy Plus would be uncomfortable, but could push the range of Kona Electric near 300 miles.

I was disappointed that Hyundai did not make it easier for the drivers to get on a pedal.

Hyundai does not seem to have put much effort into improving soundproofing. At my ear the road noise and the engine distance of the Kona EV are one or two steps higher than the bolt. On the other hand, the external sound generator warned the pedestrians when they sneaked through a parking lot and sounded more like a heroic title song than just an electric sound effect. That's a nice touch.

Another disappointment is that the Kona EV is not a 50-state vehicle. The sale will begin in the fourth quarter of 2018, with the first distribution in California. In mid-2019, it will be distributed to Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. The price has not yet been announced and the volume will be modest. "We start small," said Brian Smith, COO of Hyundai Motor America, earlier this year.

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

These inadequacies are offset by the additional consideration that Hyundai is investing in high-speed charging. Not only is 75kW fast charging a standard feature at all stages of development, but the company has adopted a robust temperature management system to enable its frequent use. "There is a debate about how DC fast charging is not good for a battery," said Jerome Gregeois, Hyundai Senior Manager for Green Power Drives. "But if you have a good cooling system, then you have no problem – you can charge fast all the time." Kona EV's 80% DC quick charge takes 54 minutes to complete, which is 25 minutes faster than Hyundai's bolt shop testing , That's 72 degrees Fahrenheit. When the mercury drops below zero, the Kona EV takes a double fast charge twice as fast as the bolt.

Hyundai is working on a new, dedicated, all-electric nameplate

The long-term, value-driven Hyundai Kona EV shows that Hyundai is not taking a wait-and-see attitude towards electrification. In fact, Mike O'Brien confirmed that the automaker has a dedicated, all-electric nameplate in the works. Hyundai announced plans for a new long-range electric vehicle last year, but it's reassuring to hear from its product planner that a new, full-throttle electric car is in the works.

You do not need a rich imagination to get a picture of Hyundai's long-range EV. We drove a version of it: the brand new Hyundai Nexo fuel cell vehicle (which is also an electric car after all). It is a refined yet muscular crossover with floating roof and flush-mounted door handles. The outer visual design is supple, without any reminiscence of aerodynamics. The Nexo is Hyundai's new platform to explore fuel cell and vehicle automation. From the driver's seat, we enjoyed the high seating position, the whisper-quiet interior and the high-tech cockpit.

2019 Hyundai Nexo fuel cell electric switch

Imagine taking the Nexo and replacing the electric drivetrain with batteries with a range of 250 to 300 miles and a robust quick charge function. This EV is only a year or two away. In the meantime, Kona EV will hit the market before the end of 2018. It may not be a game changer, but it takes us one step closer to the day when a comfortable long-range EV is a trivial thing.

ELECTRIC MOTOR: 150 KW (201 hp) / 290 lb-ft of torque
BATTERY: 64.0 kWh
OFFER: 258 miles
Vehicle type: front-wheel drive
MASS: ~ 3,850 pounds
Board charger: 7.2 kW
CHARGING: ~ 9 hours, 35 minutes (Level 2)
QUICK LOAD: ~ 75 kW
SEATING CAPACITY: 5
Cargo volume: 19.2 cubic feet
BASE PRICE: TBD

Hyundai Kona Electric

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