A Hyundai Kona Electric went more than 600 miles in a closed-course test, but only when driven at slow speeds with all accessories turned off.
The result, which Hyundai claims is a range record for a vehicle with this size battery pack, is more than double the Kona Electric's 258-mile EPA-rated range. It shows how much range can be extracted from an electric car when the driver takes extreme measures.
Testing was conducted at the Lausitzring, a racetrack in northeast Germany, under the supervision of vehicle-inspection company Dekra, Hyundai said in a press release. Three teams—one from German magazine Auto Bild and two from Hyundai's German division—drove cars around the track for nearly 35 hours.
Over that period, one of the test cars covered 1,026 kilometers (637 miles). Average speeds were between 29 kph and 31 kph (18 mph to 19 mph). Hyundai noted that this approximates what drivers typically experience in European city traffic, but that limits the tests real-world applicability.
All vehicles used were unmodified, riding on the stock low-rolling-resistance tires, according to Hyundai. But air-conditioning and infotainment systems were turned off. The only electric power not used for propulsion went to the daytime running lights, which are legally required in Germany.
This is true of many EVs; if you go slow enough and turn off accessories you can get astonishingly high range and efficiency numbers. The real test comes at higher speeds, with accessory use, and at extreme temperatures.
2020 Hyundai Kona Electric
To that last point, Hyundai has boasted that much of the lineup can now be equipped with a Winter Mode aimed at boosting range at lower temperatures.
The European WLTP testing cycle does not include hot and cold temperatures, and is run at a slower average speed than the EPA cycle, hence why the Kona Electric is rated at 300 miles of range on the WLTP cycle, and 258 miles on the EPA cycle.
Generally speaking, these sorts of exercises send the wrong message, as they suggest in order to get good range you need to take away the fun—or the comfort.
Real-world tests—like this one from the UK—are far more useful. As are claims based on real-world use scenarios—like Lucid's claim that it can get well over 400 miles of range at California freeway speeds.
Green Car Reports likes the Kona Electric, and it was a finalist for our 2019 Best Car To Buy award. It might have been a winner if it would have been more widely available—something that may change for the better as Ioniq sprouts into a standalone EV brand.