Hyundai Kona Electric debuts before Geneva show; 292-mile range from top model

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The lack of plug-in electric crossover utility vehicles with all-wheel drive is a growing and obvious gap in the market.

And where there's a gap, aggressive South Korean carmaker Hyundai may try to fill it.

The company has now released many of the details of the Hyundai Kona Electric small SUV that will get its public debut at next week's Geneva auto show.

DON'T MISS: Hyundai Kona small SUV revealed, with electric version to come

While the electric Kona shares the same shape and bodywork as the conventional gasoline model, it has several obvious visual differences.

One is a solid panel to replace the grille, similar to that used on the Ioniq Electric to distinguish it from that car's hybrid and plug-in variants.

Low-drag 17-inch alloy wheels differ from those on the gasoline Kona, and inside, blue trim accents underscore the all-electric powertrain with zero tailpipe emissions.

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

The conventional Kona will arrive in the U.S. as a 2018 model, giving the Korean carmaker a subcompact crossover to expand its lineup in the hot-selling segment. The Kona Electric is likely to make its U.S. debut within the next few months and go on sale as a 2019 model.

The model has been designed from the start for an all-electric version, giving Hyundai a rough equivalent to the Kia Soul EV electric tall wagon from its sibling company.

The electric Kona launched in Europe offers two different battery capacities and motor outputs.

READ THIS: Electric Hyundai Kona, Kia Niro production to rise again: report

The base car has a 39.2-kilowatt-hour base battery, promising 186 miles of range, and a 99-kilowatt (133-horsepower) motor, while the high-end Kona Electric uses a 64-kwh pack and a 150-kw (201-hp) motor.

That version's longer range is projected at 292 miles.

Both range estimates are based on the new Worldwide Harmonized Light-duty Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), whose range estimates are much closer to those from the EPA than those from the previous New European Drive Cycle (NEDC), notorious for very optimistic range results.

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

Note that those ranges are far higher than the 124-mile rating of the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric, using a 28-kwh pack. That vehicle is expected to get a larger pack relatively soon as well.

Hyundai promises the Kona Electric will offer a "fun-to-drive character" plus the usual connectivity features, convenience options, and active-safety systems found in the best of the small-SUV segment

Pre-orders for the electric Kona opened two weeks ago for customers in South Korea, and it will go on sale in Europe this summer.

CHECK OUT: Hyundai-Kia: eight electric cars by 2022, dedicated EV platform

In November, Business Korea reported Hyundai and Kia together will target a combined 100,000 plug-in cars produced in 2018—thanks to increases in Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona Electric production.

The revised production plans include 21,000 Kia Niro EVs and 18,600 Hyundai Kona Electrics represent boosts of 38 percent for the electric Kona and 66 percent for the Niro EV.

A concept version of the Kia Niro EV was shown last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with a stated electric range of 238 miles.

Kia Niro EV concept

Kia Niro EV concept

That's the EPA range rating for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, coincidentally, indicating Kia (and now Hyundai as well) understand the significance of a 200-mile-plus range rating to lure buyers into their battery-electric models.

Like many global automakers, Hyundai has recently quickened the pace of its electric-car development and planned more models than anticipated even just three years ago.

 Pricing is expected to range from around $30,000 for a low-range model to near $40,000 for the longer-range version.

For all the latest about green-car concepts and production models on display in Switzerland, see our Geneva auto-show news page.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published on February 8, 2018; we have updated it to reflect the latest information on the Hyundai Kona EV as it became available.


 
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