Hyundai Kona Electric: Ownership experience after 5 months & 10,000 km

The smooth, silent and explosive EV powertrain has made sure that it is next to impossible for me to consider another ICE car for purchase.

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10,000 kms UPDATE

It has been 5 months since I bought the Kona in December 2023. It has been an enjoyable experience no doubt. The 10000 kms were up and it was time to take the car for service. Service was scheduled for 9 am at Popular Hyundai, Kochi on 10th May. Reached the dealership by around 9.15 am. In spite of making a booking via the Hyundai app and later confirming via call, it took a good 45 minutes to get a service advisor allotted to me though. Guess they were short on staff that day. Anyway, once the service advisor did take up my car, he was courteous and tried to make up for a lost time. The routine checks were done, fluids were topped up, the car was washed, and a BMS update was also done. They also looked into a few minor things that I had mentioned. While waiting, briefly checked out the Ioniq 5 too. These CKD Hyundais ooze some terrific quality. There’s no denying that.

I also managed to talk with a senior service head about the probable plans Hyundai India has lined up for the Indian EV space. The Kona was never intended to be a seller. It was more of an R&D exercise for Hyundai to test the waters in India. Ioniq 5 was sort of like a halo product. It seems the Creta EV is going to be their next major product, most likely as a replacement for the diesel Creta with the ever-tightening emission norms. Unlike the Kona, the Creta EV is expected to be a volume seller. So they are in the process of upgrading the Maharashtra plant and various service centres across the country to better handle that demand. The next in line is the Exter EV. He also mentioned how Hyundai is considering bringing in the new Kona EV (at a price of ~35L) and Genesis to India. But these might take some time. We also talked about how Maruti’s entry into the EV space is going to shake up the entire Indian landscape. Looks like EV fanatics are in for some juicy products in the near future.

After the service, I took the car to the nearby tyre shop the get a wheel balancing, rotation and alignment done. While doing this, there was a small screw that was found piercing the front left tyre. No warnings had popped up in the TPMS though. They fixed the tyre. The tyre pressure was set at 36 psi using nitrogen. This was later reduced to around 34 as 36 made the car unnecessarily bouncy. 34 seemed to offer a good balance between ride and handling.

So how does the car hold up after 10,000 kms?

Simply magical! Truth be told, this car is turning out to be an all-time favourite. I have said this before: The smooth, silent, and explosive EV powertrain has made sure that it is next to impossible for me to consider another ICE car for purchase, but the low centre of gravity, the steering feel (I know I am talking about a Hyundai), the confident brakes, the paddle based regen, the 350 km realistic range, the way the car sticks on to tarmac - except for the times when you unleash all 400Nm of torque in a split second - have made sure that even if I am to consider another EV, it’s going to be a very hard exercise upgrading from all this. And I am not even mentioning the fuel cost savings so far!

A few things I have noticed:

  • Efficiency changes with outside temperature: The recent heat waves have demonstrated exactly this. When outside temperatures were soaring high, my efficiency for work-home commutes hovered around 6.5-7.5 km/kwh. Earlier I used to get around 8-9km/kwh even with spirited driving. Do note that I was driving mostly in comfort mode so the AC performance was not reduced.However, in the Kona, you can customise the AC to be in a higher setting even while driving in eco mode.
  • Efficiency changes with tyre pressure: The recommended 36 psi on all tyres delivers more efficiency. But on a hot summer day, a bit of driving around takes the indicated tyre pressure to ~38 psi which makes the ride too firm and uncomfortable over poor road surfaces. I played around and have found that 34 is the sweet spot for tyre pressure in the Kona.
  • Utility mode is Godsent: With peak summer scorching the living hell out of our bodies, the utility mode in the Kona - where you can use the car as a giant power bank while the motor is turned off has come off as a lifesaver on more than one occasion. On a few occasions when our local transformer had gone caput, I did manage to get a few hours of sleep inside the car with the AC turned on in utility mode. A little bit of music adds a pleasant ambience inside the cabin.

All said and done, it’s pretty sad that Hyundai never promoted the Kona to its fullest potential. This is a no-nonsense, semi-aspirational, enthusiast-pampering car that is the first proper fully electric one in the mass-market segment. The car was initially launched in 2018 and there are so many things in the car that still feels well ahead of time. Anyway, I am happy to have lapped one up just in time. This one’s a keeper!

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