Wild Kona electric rally car breaks cover in the hands of New Zealand rally ace, Hayden Paddon.
Hyundai’s Kona Electric is the basis for a new breed of rally car that brings back the bonkers power heights of ’80s Group B rally cars, albeit in a modern crossover body.
The creation of New Zealand ex-WRC racing driver Hayden Paddon, the Kona electric rally car is the culmination of almost two years of work. Paddon says that it’s – in theory – even better than current petrol-powered rally cars.
“The car is faster on paper than an ICE car, has better weight distribution and is more reliable as there are fewer moving parts and the potential with the technology, electronics and design of the car is endless” says Paddon. “It’s simply a new era of rallying that has new limits.”
The electric rally car has four motors and can operate in dual, tri, or quad-motor mode with 220kW delivered at each wheel. The potential total output is 800kW of power and 1100Nm of torque through a special twin-transmission. Incredibly, despite special batteries, the weight of the car is around 1400kg.
“The EV package is capable of over 800 kW, but we have focused on building this car to have comparable power to a current ICE rally car and aim for it to be winning rallies against normal ICE competition from 2022. A lot of work needs to happen between now and then, and we are confident that EV technology is going to work in a normal rally environment.”
And that’s the crux of the electric Kona rally car’s current position – it has nowhere to compete. As potentially crushing as it could be to fossil fuel rivals, it currently can’t race them in any events though that will likely change, with the potential for it to compete in some events soon. That will see the first electric rally car go up against the traditional set.
As a spectacle, the Kona, despite being electric and without exhausts, should continue to deliver a unique and enjoyable sound track as it tears through the woods: “From the outset, it was vital that the EV rally car produced a loud and distinctive sound for the safety – and enjoyment – of marshals, media and spectators out viewing the rally action.”
The car was developed by Paddon and his Paddon Rallysport Group (PRG) six-strong team of engineers at a facility in Cromwell, New Zealand – the country selected to host a round in the 2020 WRC Championship which was unfortunately quashed from the calendar.