A rallying 'world first': Hayden Paddon unveils plans for Kiwi-made electric rally car
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Hayden Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand have today revealed their latest motorsport project; a fully electric Hyundai Kona rally car.
Built and developed at the Paddon Rallysport Group base at Highlands Motorsport Park, the Kona EV claims to be the world's first rally car that's capable of competing in full-length rallying events. Among the modifications to come are a heavily revised aero package plus a full suite of safety upgrades — from a roll-cage to fire-prevention systems that are still in development.
It's expected that a first prototype will be testing and competing by April next year; complimenting a TCR New Zealand Series programme and potential New Zealand Rally Championship programme.
“This first EV rally car from the new PRG division Alternative Energy Motorsport Development (AEMD) will be a showstopper in terms of performance and will do things differently to electric-powered competition vehicles seen to date,” said Paddon.
Read more: Hyundai Kona Electric review — Range finder
“Alternative energy power-plants are very quickly evolving in the consumer-focused automotive sector, but the same developments are not as widespread in motorsport and certainly not in rallying.
“A friend and I discussed the concept of electric-powered rally cars. Not unlike most motorsport enthusiasts and their first impressions of the concept, I thought ‘not EV!’ But the more I thought about it, the more potential I could see to align top tier rallying with the technology aims of major vehicle manufacturers.”
While adding electrification to motorsport has been a hot topic for a few years now, rallying has appeared more willing than most to explore the technology.
Front-running World Rally Championship squad M-Sport have been working on an electric rally car since 2018, based on a Ford Fiesta R5 platform. An English-based group called eRally Team Zoe have developed a rally car based on the compact Renault Zoe EV. And Austrian outfit Stohl Advanced Research and Development (also known as STARD) has built a fully electric rallycross car based on a Super2000 Peugeot 207 and making 405kW and 760Nm.
It's worth noting that STARD have a technical alliance with Paddon Rallysport Group, which will allow the two firms to share data with one another. The University of Canterbury's Engineering Facility and Motorsport project team are also on-board with the Kona project.
What makes Paddon's Kona different from the aforementioned names is that it's designed to have a substantial enough range to allow it to take on longer rally events. It hasn't been confirmed what this range is, but it's worth noting that the road-going Kona EV has a claimed range of over 400km in its 64kWh guise. Paddon has also stated that making the Kona a noisy and visceral car is an important part of the development process.
“As the number one new EV brand in New Zealand we are committed to being at the forefront of innovation and championing the EV industry here, so this project aligns with us leading the way,” added Hyundai New Zealand General Manager Andy Sinclair.
More to come. View the full announcement below: