NEW YORK — Hyundai's Kona Electric adds another layer of diversity to the brand's U.S. utility lineup, as Hyundai showcases its powertrain versatility.
The Kona Electric, introduced last week at the New York auto show, is a pure EV subcompact crossover with an estimated range of 250 miles on a charge. Hyundai announced in February that the redesigned Santa Fe will get a diesel option in 2019, Hyundai's first diesel in the U.S. market. The fuel-cell powered Nexo, on the other hand, will continue to build on the brand's hydrogen legacy.
The Kona Electric will get a targeted rollout. Hyundai says it will be produced in Ulsan, Korea, with initial availability in California and later in states that follow California's zero-emission vehicle regulations. It will be available in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Hyundai Motor America COO Brian Smith said the Kona Electric's 250-mile range will give drivers more flexibility and peace of mind than some early EVs that had ranges of around 100 or 150 miles. Its closest competitor is the Chevy Bolt, a high-riding hatchback with a 238-mile range. Tesla's Model 3, with a base range of 220 miles on a charge, is a sedan.
"I think we're going to get a lot of people who know that they want an EV, and they're cross-shopping looking at other EVs because they now have an option for a CUV that hasn't really been on the market. I think a lot of cross-shopping will happen," Smith told Automotive News. "I also believe we'll get plenty of people because of the maximum range. Many people will be able to say [I can go] two or three days without having to charge."
The Kona Electric looks slightly different from its gasoline-powered counterpart. Instead of using Hyundai's cascading grille, the electric Kona gets a closed-up front with a debossed design. The charging port is integrated into the grille area.
The electric crossover gets 19.2 cubic feet of rear cargo space, the same as the gasoline version. Pricing wasn't disclosed.
Hyundai also unveiled the redesigned 2019 Tucson crossover in New York. It's not electrified, but it's a continuation of Hyundai's utility blitz. The brand said the Tucson is the fifth of eight new or re-engineered CUVs Hyundai is debuting by 2020. The Tucson gets a new cascading grille and modified center stack.