Next-gen 2023 Hyundai Kona Electric: Everything we know [Update]

Update: ‘Design’ section updated with details from new spy pictures.

The Hyundai Kona Electric will undergo a full model change, a report from the Korean portal Aju Economy said in October 2021. This was the first time we heard of a next-gen 2023 Hyundai Kona EV in the pipeline. Analysts are divided on the idea of the Hyundai Kona Electric continuing in the market beyond the first generation. Some feel that Hyundai should use it as a stepping stone to an Ioniq series model. As we’ve explained in the article’s conclusion, that could be the eventual fate of the small electric SUV, but for now, there appears to be progress on the second generation.

New generation 2023 Hyundai Kona testing begins

The first spy shots of the new generation Hyundai Kona appeared this year on The Korean Car Blog. Codenamed SX2, the 2023 Hyundai Kona looks to be larger than its predecessor, as evidenced by the pictures taken in South Korea.

Design

Besides the change in the size, there seems to be several changes in store in the Kona’s design language. The prototype embodies the Kona’s crossover proportions with a tall roofline, roof rails, and a squared-off rear end. New angular ORVMs and machine cut alloy are also observed in the test prototype.

2023 Hyundai Kona front three quarter spy shot
Road-testing of the 2023 Hyundai Kona has begun in South Korea and Europe, revealing a slightly larger body that should liberate more room for passengers and cargo. Image Source: Naver/soonjung8116

On January 26, 2022, Naver user soonjung8116 published new spy pictures of the next-gen Kona, showing it from different angles and revealing new design details. This was the first time we got to look at the front-end.

The Kona was the brand’s first model featuring Composite headlamps, commonly known as split headlamps, and the second-gen model is set to carry the feature forward. However, while the model started off with horizontal lower lamps, the 2023 Hyundai Kona would have vertical lower (main) lamps, as seen on Palisade, Tucson, and other recent Hyundai SUVs.

Carscoops published new spy pictures on June 2, 2022, revealing details about the front fascia of the next-gen Kona. The new pictures all but confirm vertical headlamps on the redesigned model. There could be three horizontal light modules in the headlamp assembly. Plus, it looks like there’s a full-width daytime running light strip at the tip of the hood. The rendering from YouTube channel Gotcha Cars, pictured below, is probably close to the design hiding behind the camouflage.

Similar character

2023 Hyundai Kona render
The unofficial render from Gotcha Cars showcases a split headlamp design, large air dam and prominent black cladding on the new Hyundai Kona. Image: Gotcha Cars (via YouTube)

The shape of the Kona will likely remain more or less the same. In this segment, customers generally prefer crossover-type looks with a soft character, as opposed to a squarish or boxy shape like the Renegade. Don’t expect Hyundai to offer features like hidden door handles or solar roof, in the interest of maintaining the low price.

Interior

New steering wheel and center console

The next-gen Hyundai Kona Electric will have an interior design that’s visibly different from the current model. Spy pictures thekoreancarblog.com has published reveal that the new interior borrows cues from the Ioniq 5. It consists of a more contemporary dashboard, a dual-display panel housing the digital instrument cluster and touchscreen infotainment system together, slimmer central AC vents, a new climate control panel consisting of physical buttons, and a chunky new four-spoke multi-function steering inspired by Ioniq 5 and the Hyundai 45 EV Concept.

Free-standing instrument cluster

Like the Ioniq 5, a large free-standing digital instrument cluster is visible. What’s more, in spy shots thekoreancarblog.com published on February 1, 2022, a large left ORVM is visible and probably an A-pillar integrated speaker as well.

Video Source: YouTube/우파푸른하늘Woopa TV

On March 6, 2022, YouTube channel 우파푸른하늘Woopa TV posted a video offering a close look at the next-gen Kona from a parking lot. In addition to showing the exterior details like headlamps, tailgate, and tail lamps, the video gave a peek inside the cabin. YouTube channel 뻥태기TV released a similar video on March 8, 2022.

Physical buttons

New spy images emerged on Cochespias on April 28, revealing more details about the upcoming 2023 Hyundai Kona Electric. Purists would appreciate that the cabin isn’t devoid of physical buttons; there are plenty of them. The buttons under the infotainment have an aluminum-like finish but are likely to be plastic; the controls will allow customers to access certain functions like maps and media directly, sans navigating through the touchscreen menus.

Moreover, there are rotary knobs for climate control—another valuable addition where customers will not have to take their eyes off the road to adjust climate control settings; knowing the position of the knobs and their tactile feel would enable them to change the temperature while focusing on the road. Many carmakers are integrating climate settings into the infotainment or adding a secondary screen on the center console dedicated to climate settings, which can be distracting, and a pain to operate when wearing winter gloves.

Lastly, the steering wheel also has seemingly well-finished buttons and rotary dials for calling, audio and ADAS. Customers will also be able to navigate through different settings on the digital instrument cluster using the steering-mounted controls.

Rear AC vents & better rear knee room

The interior of the next-gen Kona Electric features a light grey color theme, indicating that it is indeed. We see new door panels with sleeker grab handles, rear AC vents, which is a new feature, and an electrically adjustable front passenger seat similar to that of the Ioniq 5. Overall, it looks like the next-gen Kona Electric will feature a more premium and spacious interior compared to the current model.

Korean YouTube channel Mocar posted revealing spy shots of the upcoming Kona Electric’s interior on April 3, 2022. The Hyundai logo is missing in the new steering, whose shape is reminiscent of the Land Rover Discovery Sport’s unit. We also see a button behind the wheel, which may be the start/stop feature. The pillar-mounted tweeter is also visible, and the front seat backrests are slim, opening up ample rear knee room. And lastly, the EV seems to also have a column-mounted gear selector, identical to what is seen on the Ioniq 5.

Mechanicals

The 2023 Hyundai Kona is likely to continue as a multi-energy family, offering petrol and all-electric powertrains. Its EV sibling is codenamed SX2e EV, with ‘e’ denoting Europe, the report adds. There’s another codename, SX2 N Line, which suggests that Hyundai will continue to offer the next generation Kona with a sportier styling package and performance enhancements for the enthusiasts.

Minor increase in battery capacity

Kia released powertrain details of the next-gen Niro EV in February 2022 for the European market. The Niro EV is the Kona Electric’s cousin, and the same upgrades are likely to be applied to the Hyundai. The 2022 Niro EV will offer a 64.8 kWh battery, a negligible increment from 64 kWh on the 2021 model.

As the 2023 Hyundai Kona has grown, like on the new Niro EV, boot space should be better, and the knee and shoulder room would go up in the rear seat. However, the increased dimensions may not be kind to the range, which may improve nominally at best. Therefore, customers who require a longer travel range would have to upgrade to the Ioniq 5.

As in the case of the Chevrolet Bolt EUV and Chevrolet Bolt, LG Chem’s defective battery cells posed major problems for the Hyundai Kona Electric. However, that doesn’t mean that Hyundai will choose a different supplier for the next-gen Kona Electric’s battery cells. “It will be difficult for Hyundai to completely exclude LG Chem’s products from the second-generation Kona Electric due to the existing contract,” an EV battery official said, as per the Aju Economy report.

Hyundai Kona Electric discontinued in S.Korea

Introduced in March 2018, the Kona Electric was in the news in 2020 for all the wrong reasons due to defective batteries and software. Some of the manufacturing defects led to massive recalls, and in South Korea, Hyundai discontinued the Kona EV after just three years in showrooms. It replaced faulty batteries in over 75,000 Kona EVs globally, which no doubt tainted the car’s image. Despite the troubles, the company seems confident about the EV’s future and has decided on a second-generation family, as per the Korean report. Note that as of this writing, Hyundai has announced nothing about the Kona EV’s future generation.

Production & Sales

US-spec 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric interior dashboard
While the Hyundai Kona Electric has been a fixture of the electric car market, it is likely to get replaced this decade with an Ioniq series model, based on the E-GMP, that is cheaper to make, and features advanced tech and better packaging. Image: Hyundai

HMC manufactures the Hyundai Kona Electric at factory no. 1 of the Ulsan plant. The Aju Economy report had suggested that the company will start producing it at factory no. 3 of the Ulsan plant as well. “Since the track and wheelbase of the Ioniq 5 and the Kona Electric are different, we are in the process of relocating the line,” a Hyundai union official said.

The third factory at the Ulsan plant will be able to roll out 80,000 units of the Kona Electric a year eventually. Hyundai could cease the production of the small electric SUV at factory no. 1 when it moves it to its second generation. Such a move could free up production capacity for the Hyundai Ioniq 5 at factory no. 1.

European production

Since March 2020, Hyundai manufactures the Kona Electric in Nosovice, Czech Republic as well. The Nosovice factory supplies the car to the European markets, and this separate regional production may continue in the second generation. Hyundai announced on 18 January 2022 that it had experienced another year of increasing EV sales. It sold 72,509 battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles and these zero-emission vehicles made up 14.1 percent of sales in Europe last year, representing a 26 percent increase over 2020.

In South Korea, Hyundai sold 1,429 units of the Kona EV in the domestic market and exported 20,814 units in 2021. As for the overseas plant sales in 2021, the Hyundai Motor India (HMI) and Beijing Hyundai Motor Company factories shipped only 121 units and 603 units, respectively, and the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech production facility moved 22,643 units. We can conclude from this data that 45,610 units of the Hyundai Kona Electric were headed to dealers in 2021.

Release Date

Hyundai could unveil the next-gen Kona Electric in 2023 and launch it towards the end of next year. The gap should give its cousin, the 2022 Kia Niro EV, enough time to settle into the markets globally.

The 2022 Kona EV (facelift) that debuted in November 2020 went on sale in the U.S. in spring 2021. Prices start at USD 34,000, and the comprehensive exterior changes will keep the car fresh at least until early 2024.

Hyundai plans to introduce several new ZEVs by 2025. These will include the Hyundai Ioniq 6 this year, an economy EV for emerging markets in 2023, the new Hyundai Nexo in H2 2023, the Hyundai Staria Fuel Cell at the end of 2023, and the Hyundai Ioniq 7 in 2024.

A lower Ioniq model should eventually replace the Kona Electric

Lorenz Glaab, Head of Global Product Management at Hyundai Motor Group, has indicated that the Kona Electric may get the ax when the E-GMP Ioniq EV family is fully developed and ready for mass adoption worldwide. “That sort of direction is possible, but for the time being, Kona EV will still be around and run in parallel (to the E-GMP Ioniq EVs),” he told Autocar in September 2020.

In the second half of the decade when electric vehicle adoption increases and competitors offer electric crossovers at lower prices, Hyundai could consider releasing a smaller Ioniq as the Kona EV’s successor, to keep up with peers in the aspects of looks, space, features, performance, besides pricing. Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President, Head of Customer Experience Division, Hyundai also agrees that an Ioniq model could eventually replace the Kona Electric. That “seems to be likely,” Schemera told Automotive News in September 2021.

Hyundai electrification targets

Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) plans to introduce 17 EVs by 2030. 11 of these new electric vehicles be Hyundai models, and one of them will be the next-gen Kona Electric. HMC has set a long-term annual EV sales target of 1.87 million units and plans to achieve it by 2030. The company has earmarked KRW 19.4 trillion (USD 15.6 billion) for electrification. It aims to capture 7% of the global EV market by the end of the decade.

Featured image: Naver/soonjung8116