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Geneva show: Hyundai teases Kona Electric

Electric dreams: While the Kona has only just burst onto the small-SUV scene, a pure-electric version of it will soon be available to European customers … and maybe Australian ones, too.

Kona small SUV goes pure-electric as Hyundai ponders an Australian launch

Hyundai logo8 Feb 2018

By JUSTIN HILLIARD

HYUNDAI confirmed this week that its recently launched Kona will soon become the first mass-production small SUV available with an EV option, dubbed Electric, but an Australian launch remains under review.

Set for a reveal on February 27 ahead of an international debut at the Geneva motor show next month, the Kona Electric will feature two different powertrains, but their composition and outputs are under wraps – for now.

According to Hyundai, the flagship version will have “one of the most powerful electric engines on the market with a class-leading range of almost 470 kilometres” – an internal target under the new WLTP regulations.

Furthermore, the Korean car-maker says the Kona Electric’s “great fun-to-drive character” will be a key selling point for interested customers.

A suite of safety and advanced driver-assist technologies will be offered in the new model, but it remains to be seen if built-in satellite navigation – a feature unavailable in the current local Kona range – will be standard fit on the Electric.

Capitalising on two of the fastest-growing trends in the automotive industry, SUVs and electrification, the Kona Electric will look to break ground by beating its future rivals to market.

By using the now familiar Kona as a basis, the Electric will not be a foreign proposition if the single nondescript teaser image of it is anything to go by.

The Electric is expected to maintain the Kona's signature styling elements, including its split-level headlights and tail-lights, cascading front grille, extensive body cladding and overall unconventional looks.

However, it appears Hyundai will alter some of these components to distinguish the Electric from its fossil-fuelled counterparts, with the grille insert the most obvious change depicted in the teaser.

Specifically, the regular Kona's mesh insert has been ditched in favour of a plastic panel with check-pattern-like holes that possibly aid aerodynamics or improve cooling.

While the Kona Electric is confirmed for a European-market launch in the middle of this year, other markets, such as Australia, will have to wait a little longer for approval as EV infrastructure will be vital to the new model's success.

Nevertheless, the electrified Ioniq small hatch line-up – which features hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric powertrains – is set to hit Aussie showrooms around July, meaning the Kona Electric's local prospects are strong.

Additionally, Hyundai's second-generation fuel-cell SUV, the Nexo, will lob Down Under when 20 examples are imported early next year as part of the ACT government's Hornsdale Wind Farm project.

The Nexo faces similar infrastructure issues as hydrogen refuelling stations are also lacking, which is why Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) built its own one at its headquarters in Macquarie Park, Sydney.

As part of its commitment to renewable energy and zero-emissions mobility, HMCA formed a national body for the emerging hydrogen industry, dubbed Hydrogen Mobility Australia (HMA), alongside Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA) and various other companies.

Hyundai Motor Company plans to introduce 16 electrified models across its Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands by 2025, with the Kia Niro EV the next of which to go on sale overseas later this year.

Further details on the Kona Electric – including a full exterior and interior reveal – will be released by Hyundai on February 27, while the Geneva motor show kicks off on March 8.

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