The Hyundai Kona EV, which debuted in March 2018, will undergo a full model change, claims a fresh report from Korean portal Aju Economy. This is the first time we are hearing of a next-gen Hyundai Kona Electric in the pipeline. While many analysts feel that it would be retired after its first generation and replaced with an Ioniq series model, this report offers a different view.
The Hyundai Kona Electric was in the news for all the wrong reasons due to faulty 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, that 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 not announced anything about the Kona EV’s future.
Hyundai manufactures the Kona Electric at factory no. 1 of the Ulsan plant. In the first half of next year, the company will start producing it at factory no. 3 of the Ulsan plant as well, suggests the report. “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 of 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 of the Ulsan plant.
As in the case of the Chevrolet Bolt EUV and Chevrolet Bolt, LG Chem’s defective battery cells became a major problem for the Kona EV. 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.
Hyundai could unveil the next-gen Kona EV in 2023 and launch it towards the end of that year. It should give sister brand Kia’s next-gen Niro EV due in 2022 enough time to settle down in the global markets, as the Kona is viewed as a key competitor. The 2022 Kona Electric (facelift) that debuted in November 2020 went on sale in the U.S. this spring. Its prices start at USD 34,000, and the comprehensive exterior changes will keep the car fresh for two more years.
Hyundai plans to introduce several new ZEVs in addition to the Kona EV by 2025. These will include the Hyundai Ioniq 6 in 2022, 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, the Hyundai Ioniq 7 in 2024, and reportedly a Hyundai Ioniq 3 in 2025.
Featured image: Hyundai