The 258-Mile Hyundai Kona Electric Sets the New Standard for EV Range

By · August 28, 2018

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week announced that the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric is rated to provide 258 miles on a single charge. That’s a huge deal. It’s important not because the Kona crossover displaces the Chevy Bolt as the leader in range among affordable electric cars. There are only 20 miles that separate the range of the Kona Electric and the Bolt—a difference that’s inconsequential for daily driving.

The Kona EV’s 258-mile official range is a big deal because it’s the new benchmark for all carmakers to meet when introducing an electric car. Chevy, Nissan, Toyota, and BMW are now all on notice to put up bigger range numbers.

Of course, the king of range remains the expensive Tesla Model S and Model X. Most EV fans expect a 300-ish range from vehicles that commonly sell for six figures (and have a Tesla badge). The major shift that’s underway is the availability of cars that sell closer to $40,000 and exceed 250 miles on a charge—a level that will likely grow to 300 miles or more in the next couple years.

The Tesla Model 3, which was supposed to be the breakthrough car for long-range affordability, has not been the model to deliver on that promise. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a fantastic electric vehicle. However, recent surveys indicate that the only Model 3 version available today—the 310-mile variant—has an average sales price of around $60,000. Again, we expect Tesla to produce outrageously cool long-range EVs.

The End of Long-Range Excuses

But what is cooler still, and more novel, is an out-of-nowhere, no-buzz Hyundai crossover that sets a new standard for affordable EV range—at a price that beats the Chevy Bolt. The Kona Electric’s price has not yet been announced, but Hyundai could really shake things up if it lands near $30,000.

The Kona will have the same zippy driving character of many other small EVs. Its 201-horsepower electric motor, driving the front wheels, matches the Chevy Bolt’s 200-hp motor—and beats the Nissan LEAF and BMW i3 with 147 and 170 horses respectively. All of them scoot from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in around seven seconds.

Reviewers say the Kona offers a spacious front cabin, tight rear seating, and modest interior appointments. The 2019 Kona Electric dashboard uses a floating touchscreen for entertainment and vehicle information. A center-console push-button gear selector replaces the gas version’s conventional shifter.

But what matters most to a lot of consumers who have been on the fence about EVs is range and affordability. “We'll get plenty of people because of the maximum range,” said Brian Smith, Hyundai Motor America COO, in an interview with Automotive News. “Many people will be able to say I can go two or three days without having to charge.”

Hyundai says the electric Kona will go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2018, with initial distribution in California. That will be followed in mid-2019 with distribution to Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

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