By Keith Morgan
Aside from the jaw-dropping sticker prices on many electric vehicles, perhaps the biggest deterrent to potential buyers is range anxiety.
Will the battery run out of juice before you complete your journey? A fledgling infrastructure with limited places to top up along the way only adds to that fear.
However, the new Kona compact SUV offers up to 420 kilometres of roadwork before you need to plug it in. I would have no fear taking a jaunt to Seattle or Tacoma, Washington, as I frequently do, because there would be at least 100 klicks left in the battery on arrival.
I might be a bit of a scaredy cat making one of my regular 390-km trips to Kelowna as there are a lot of power sucking hills on the way. But Hope is well served with recharge stations and there are locations along the way, Merritt for example.
I spent a week wheeling around the Lower Mainland in an Ultimate edition, clocking around 175 kilometres. The cost to recharge in my building was under five bucks! The learned analysts say the gas consumption equivalency is about 1.8/2.3 L/100km (city/highway). A full charge from almost zero takes under seven hours on a basic Level 2 charger, the most commonly installed in public places and private residences. A fast charger will boost the battery from 10 per cent to 80 in around 45 minutes.
Incidentally, you can use the battery to charge up your eBike or camping equipment while out in the wilds. My idea of camping is Motel 6 so I’m not likely to put that to the test.
Interestingly, the new Kona was essentially designed as an electric vehicle first rather than it being an adaptation of a car created as a gas-powered car. It signals Hyundai’s determination to market 11 new EVs globally by 2030.
Regular readers will recall my disdain, as a condo resident with limited parking space, for the trend to make every new iteration of a vehicle longer and wider. This model is slightly bigger in both directions but not enough burst beyond the stall’s white lines.
The dimensional growth positively affects interior room for driver and passenger alike plus an increase in rear stowage from 544 litres to 723 and 1,803 litres with rear seats folded. I know, what the heck does 179 litres of space look like? Probably means three more suitcases.
Inside, a large curved display integrates the drive data info and a 12.3-inch touchscreen that incorporates a new infotainment system. There’s wireless connectivity to either Apple CarPlay or Android Autoplay.
Continuing the tech talk, drivers can create a digital key for their smart phones and leave the key fob at home. Err, not a risk I would take but my grandson would think it cool. Actually, my granddaughter has a habit of hiding keys so maybe I would have to. And there’s the facility for Over-the-Air software updates. Yeah moving on…
The concentration of manual controls round the steering wheel plus the gear changer makes for more centre console space to clutter with keys and other junk we tend want close to hand on a trip.
I love the hum of an electric motor and how it offers no competition to a tune of Judas Priest at their heaviest. I’m sure a bit of Mozart also offers a concert hall experience.
The gear change takes a little getting used to and has been criticized as awkward by a couple of my colleagues who were on the recent one-day drive launch with me in Victoria. However, they can be reassured that a few days at the wheel cures that.
The Kona is loaded with a long list of standard safety features such as a Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and cameras to help me park in my tiny space at home.
It’s front-wheel drive only for the mo and that that mo could linger because apparently putting together an all-wheel drivetrain to fit is not an easy task. But they’re working on it, recognizing North American drivers sometimes encounter inclement conditions.
The starting price is $46,399 and the very loaded Ultimate trim yours truly drove starts at $51,199. This price range ensures it remains eligible for the federal and provincial EV discounts of up to $9,000, kindly subsidized by our fellow tax payers.