Three Hyundai Kona EV drivers just surpassed 1,000 km (620 miles) on a single charge, each in a different Kona EV.
Several years back, there were frequent attempts to set new Tesla driving records on a single charge. Being the electric cars with the most range, those were also always electric vehicle driving records. One team would go many hours hypermiling at low speed with the air conditioning off and beat the record, and then another team would. As Tesla rolled out vehicles with bigger and bigger batteries, there were new opportunities to set new records. I even engaged in one of these attempts with some buddies in Poland.
For some reason, I haven’t seen that going on for a while. Maybe the current record got too hard to beat?
One thing you didn’t see a lot was people attempting range records in other electric vehicles. Personally, I think such competitions would be more fun now than reviving the Tesla competitions. There are fewer of the other electric vehicles out there, they have gotten much less press in general, and there are interesting variations across the models that might make them intriguing as range-record competitors. Maybe Hyundai will kick off a trend.
As noted in the headline and subheading, a few people recently got a Kona EV to go beyond 1,000 km on a single charge. One of them is a journalist with Auto Bild, and two of them work at Hyundai Motor Deutschland. The distances the three subcompact SUVs (if that makes sense as a vehicle class) went were: 1,018.7 kilometers (km), 1,024.1 km, and 1,026.0 km. In American terms, that’s 633 miles, 636.3 miles, and 637.5 miles.
Naturally, getting an insane amount of range out of the batteries meant driving as efficiently as possible. “Each distance also represents a record in terms of 64 kWh battery capacity, as the power consumption figures of 6.28, 6.25 and 6.24 kWh per 100 km were well below the standard value of 14.7 kWh per 100 km determined by the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).”
As always in these efforts, getting so much out of the battery meant turning the air conditioning off, driving slowly (on average, 29–31 km/h, or 18–19 mph), and prepping well. “The nearly 35-hour test took place at Lausitzring, a racetrack in northeast Germany. Dekra, a European vehicle inspection company that has operated at Lausitzring since 2017, monitored the test process and vehicles, recording 36 driver changes.”
However, it’s important to note the drivers did not cheat, mod the cars, or go to true extremes. They just did their best to cut energy use in legitimate ways. “All vehicles used in the test were factory-spec and unmodified, equipped with standard Nexen N Fera SU1 low rolling resistance tires in the 215/55R17 size. Each vehicle’s air conditioning and entertainment systems remained off, with available power used solely for propulsion. Only the daytime running lights remained on to comply with the legal requirements for road traffic.”
What’s the point of such range tests? Fun is one potential reason — but I have to say, having done one of these, how much “fun” this is depends on your personality, as well as what phase of the experience you’re at. Aside from “fun,” the core point is to show people how far an EV can really drive if you are smart and push it, and another core point is to demonstrate how you handle a low charge if you ever find yourself in such a situation — turn off the air and drive slowly!
The concept of “range anxiety” is actually mostly “range anxiety anxiety” in the real world — anxiety that you will get range anxiety if you get an electric car. However, there can certainly be times when you’re running out of battery sooner than you’d like. It can be a huge boon to understand well in those situations that driving about 20 mph and turning off as much of the extra stuff in the car as you can, especially the HVAC, can vastly extend your driving range.
The Hyundai Kona EV was actually the 2019 CleanTechnica Car of the Year. It’s a compelling electric car due to its relatively long range for the price, attractive design, and popular vehicle class. It’s a wonderful little package of usefulness and fun.
“With this test, the KONA Electric confirmed what many of our customers already know: it is a reliably efficient and eco-friendly lifestyle SUV that is practical for everyday use,” Jürgen Keller, Managing Director of Hyundai Motor Deutschland GmbH, said.
Hyundai aims to sell 1 million electric vehicles in 2025, take 10% of the world EV market at the time (which makes assumptions about both Hyundai’s sales and global EV sales), and be producing three new electric vehicle models as well as its current electric vehicle lineup (the KONA Electric and the IONIQ Electric). Showing consumers that electric cars can drive much further than they think is a good way to get rolling.