Apparently, Hyundai-Sime Darby Malaysia has got something of an electric surprise in store for Malaysians in the 4th and final quarter of 2021 with the incoming launch of the Kona Electric.
As its name plainly states, this is the battery-powered fully electric version of the Kona B-segment crossover, though it will be arriving in its most current facelift guise which was first publicly outed in November 2020.
Carlist.my has received official confirmation that the Korean EV will be launching before the end of the year, giving Hyundai’s local presence a very welcome boost as the first automaker to offer a fully electric vehicle at prices more palatable to mass-market buyers.
Malaysians might remember the first Kona Electric making its first local appearance at the 2018 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show where it shared booth space with the Hyundai i30 N. Unlike the hot hatch, the EV Kona wouldn’t soon be offered for sale, even in limited numbers.
With the imminent launch of the 2021 Kona Electric, though, Hyundai hopes to capitalise on the growing appetites of EV buyers here, specifically the ones that aren’t necessarily looking for something high-end like a Tesla or a Polestar 2.
Visually, the Kona Electric shares much of its exterior design with the combustion-powered Kona, resembling the 2.0 Active but with much more of the front end filled in and, in profile, the grey plastic cladding removed. It does, however, receive a contrasting black roof and a unique set of 17-inch alloy wheels.
Also confirmed to us is the choice of two battery sizes upon its local launch, in line with its specifications abroad. The range will start with a 39.2kWh capacity paired with a single 136PS electric motor driving the front wheels while a pricier variant will receive a substantially larger 64kWh unit and a stronger 204PS motor.
Naturally, despite the weight of the extra cells, the more powerful 64kWh version manages to out-accelerate the lesser variant by 2 seconds to 100km/h (7.9s vs 9.9s) while top speed is 167km/h and 155km/h respectively.
With any fully electric model, range and charging times are arguably more important than any performance metric, and Hyundai quotes 305km for the 39.2kWh variant and 484km on a full charge for the 64kWh Kona Electric according to the latest WLTP testing cycle.
AC charging at home using the single-phase 7.2kW onboard charger will take a mostly depleted battery about 6 hours for the base 39.2kWh unit to reach 80% while its 9 hours and 15 minutes for the 64kWh.
The electric crossover also supports DC fast charging between 10% and 80% with a 100kW charger taking 47 minutes for both battery sizes. However, on the more widespread 50kW chargers, it takes about 50 minutes (39.2kWh) and just over an hour (64kWh). Owners can easily keep track of charging progress via Hyundai’s BlueLink smartphone app.
Each Kona Electric should receive the same assortment of SmartSense driver assist and active safety features that the standard Kona range here is furnished with (mostly), which will include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCCA), and Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA).
Locally, the only real competition the Kona Electric will see from the mass market space (especially the base 39.2kWh variant) will come from the 2nd-generation Nissan Leaf, a 5-door hatchback that’s just as accelerative and boasts a 40kWh battery with a quoted 311km range (NEDC).
Lastly, pricing is something we can’t really put a firm guess on since there will likely be some clever manoeuvring on Hyundai’s part to ensure the Kona Electric benefits from as many incentives and subsidies as possible.
The Leaf starts from RM181k while the current range-topping Kona is RM157k. Unless it has a pretty barren equipment list, it’s almost certain that the Kona Electric will command a steeper price than its 198PS N-Line sibling. What’s unknown so far is how much that difference will be and if it will strike enough of a balance to lure EV adopters into the fold.