2024 Hyundai Kona Electric — The EV For Chevy Bolt Owners Whose Lease Is Up

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The other day, I got an email from Jock Gill, my college classmate who was one of the leaders for the community solar project in his home town of Peacham, Vermont. Jock has been leasing a Chevy Bolt, but his lease is nearly up and he has been casting about for a car to replace it. He told me the Hyundai Kona Electric is that car.

“If your Chevy Bolt lease is coming to an end and you want to continue driving an EV, GM does not have a suitable replacement yet. A friend in Vermont had this problem last December and suggested I look at the Hyundai Kona Limited. It has better features than my 2021 Bolt such as faster charging, a heat pump for heating and cooling, OTA updates, sun roof, advanced cruise control, and more.”

Jock found the Hyundai dealer in Burlington, Vermont to be very helpful. “They will take into account every possible incentive offered to Vermonters for going electric, including turning in an old ICE clunker. The incentives can easily reach $12,000 or more, in  some cases, a good bit more. I was not thinking Kona, but the bang for the buck is solid. It is essentially a Teslaesque Bolt replacement.”

My wife and I own a Chevy Bolt and find it quite pleasant to drive, although its slow charging is a PITA on trips (the maximum DC charging rate for the Bolt is a pitiful 55 kW.) Or course, the Bolt traces its architecture back almost a decade. One would hope advances in charging technology have been made since then. Hyundai says the new car can use a 400 volt DC fast charger, but neglects to say exactly how much power it can accept. Instead it quotes a 10% to 80% charging time of 43 minutes.

Noted EV authority Bjorn Borg says the 2024 Kona Electric he drove on a 1000 km test drive  was able to charge at between 90 and 100 kW up to 70% SOC, at which point charging continued at 50 kW. That is considerably better than the Bolt, but not the blazing speed possible with other more expensive electric cars available today. The new car is also able to charge on AC at 11 kW versus the 7.2 kW of the first generation Kona Electric. According to Enel X, that difference cuts AC charging times in half.

Last fall, my colleague Kyle Field got to drive the second generation Hyundai Kona Electric at a press event outside Baltimore, Maryland and was impressed with the car. It is longer, taller, and wider than its predecessor, which means more space inside for heads, elbows and hips. There is a tiny frunk (less than 1 cubic foot) that is just big enough to hold the AC charging cable. A nice feature of the car is that it supports vehicle to load operation, which means it can operate power tools, air compressors, lights, and other appliances when the car is parked.

What impressed Kyle the most was how quiet the car was while driving, with only tire noise audible inside the passenger compartment. Hyundai still makes a gasoline-powered version of the Kona, but it has reversed the usual development process. Instead of starting with a platform designed around an internal combustion engine and then making the battery and drivetrain fit, it designed the car to be a battery-electric vehicle first and then reverse engineered to make the conventional engine and transmission powertrain fit.

Hyundai Kona Electric Prices & Specs

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric
Courtesy of Hyundai

The 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric comes in three trim levels — SE, SEL, and Limited. The SE starts at $34,050. The SEL adds heated seats and some other goodies and starts at $38,050. The Limited edition lists for $42,420. All versions come with a single electric motor driving the front wheels. The standard motor is rated at 133 hp (100 kW) but a 201 hp (150 kW) motor is an option.

The Kona Electric offers a choice of two batteries. The 48.6 kWh battery has an estimated range of 200 miles, while the 64.8 kWh battery has an estimated range of 260 miles. It is interesting that the car with the larger battery is almost identical to the Chevy Bolt in terms of battery size and range, so people like Jock Gill who are looking to replace their Bolt with a new EV will feel right at home.

When Car and Driver tested the car, they said, “We had a chance to briefly test drive the more powerful of the two in Europe. Acceleration felt perky but the Kona Electric lacks the neck-snapping satisfaction we’ve come to expect from other EVs.” [Note: The Bolt has a 201 hp motor — exactly the same as the optional motor fitted to the Kona Electric. That’s another reason Bolt drivers should feel right at home in this latest offering from Hyundai.] “Handling is competent but the Kona’s clearly been tuned with comfort in mind, and the quiet operation of the electric powertrain and the isolated cabin make it an easy-going commuter. ”

The Kona Electric Has Plenty Of Goodies

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric
Courtesy of Hyundai

Over-the-air updates are now standard on all Kona Electric models. Other features like emergency forward braking and blind spot detection are either standard or available. See dealer for details. The new car features two 12.3-inch display screens — one for instrumentation and the other an infotainment device that works with either Apple Car Play or Android Auto. Hyundai has retained some traditional buttons for routine functions like operating the heating and air conditioning systems, bucking the trend started by Tesla to put all the controls possible on the touchscreen.

One intangible benefit is the well-known Hyundai warranty. The comprehensive warranty is for 5 years or 60,000 miles. The powertrain, including the battery, is covered by a 10-year, 100,000-mile factory warranty, and all scheduled maintenance is free for the first three years.

Hyundai now includes its i Pedal system that makes one pedal driving possible. The system takes into account how far away the car in front is and adjusts the amount of regenerative braking accordingly.

The Takeaway

The Hyundai Kona Electric is a pretty good car, but it is not eligible for the federal tax credit/rebate if purchased outright. But thanks to the vagaries of the Treasury Department regulations that implement the IRA, if you lease the car, you can get the advantage of the rebate, a situation that drove Senator Joe Manchin to distraction.

What is startling is that Chevrolet has no directly comparable car for its Bolt drivers who are coming to the end of their lease to transition to. This is an unforced error of epic proportions. Customer retention is one of the highest priorities of any successful business, but GM seems not to have thought that far ahead. Unbelievable.

Jock Gill actually found Jessica Sudeall, the sales director at Mirai Chevrolet/Hyundai in Arlington, Massachusetts, very helpful. Unlike GM, which seems oblivious to customer retention, Jessica worked extra hard to earn repeat business from Jock. I promised him I would give her a shout-out because we frequently lambaste lazy dealers who seemingly want nothing to do with selling electric cars. Jessica can be reached at (781) 641-9208. If you live in New England and are interested in a Hyundai, give her a call.

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