Review of Hyundai Kona Electric Vehicle (EV) 2021


In 2021 I took out a lease on a Hyundai Kona EV.  I'm not an expert on EVs and this review is based on my experience of using one as a disabled person via Motability.

The first longish trip was a run to Heathrow Airport.  I was on my way to Iceland for some photography.  I left 80 miles on the battery so that I could get back up the motorway comfortably and recharge somewhere.  As usual I used a 'meet and greet' company at Heathrow Airport to take care of my car.  When I returned, I found that the dashcam had been disconnected, the car had been driven around on 'sport mode' rather than 'eco mode' which is my default.  I also found that the battery was down to 30 miles range.  Someone had taken the car for a jolly.  Heathrow Airport distanced themselves from the complaint and directed me to the actual operator (a 3rd party company) who refused to acknowledge the complaint, let alone address it. Since then I've decided it's better to pay more to park on the terminal and not let anyone else into your car.

While with a petrol/diesel car this issue can be easily resolved, it's not the same for an EV.

This incident put me into a negative spiral re EVs.  I spent 4 hours trying to find either a vacant or working charging point and my range was dropping as I drove from point to point identified by my car and my other apps.  I then had to wait 2 hours to get enough charge off a slow charger, so I could get to the motorway and find a fast charger.  I should have been home by midday but ended up getting home by about 9pm.

My main coping mechanism for my disabilities is wilderness and wildlife photography, so the various lockdowns during the height of the Covid Pandemic, coupled with Brexit, made coping extremely difficult.  I was infected with Covid earlier in the year and have only just started to resurface mentally but I can't trust my EV enough to venture out; I actually feel imprisoned by it owing to the lack of charging infrastructure in the UK and I will be moving back to a petrol vehicle because pre Covid, I was regularly exploring Scotland, Wales and parts of Europe in my car.

So this is my review of the car that I've had for a few months now.  I picked a range of 40 miles because I drove to a meeting the other week which was 40 miles away.  I parked over night and drove back which depleted just under 50% of my battery capacity.  The battery level was 97% at the start of the journey and 50% by the time I got home.  You can make your own adjustments/calculations.

Electric Vehicle Local travel (less than 40 miles daily)
If you only drive locally and have a home charging unit, an EV is perfect for you, apart from concerns re Winter. If you have solar panels, the Zappi charging unit is the one you need. Stay away from BP Pulse as the chargers they install won't currently help you. The Zappi unit will put any excess power into your EV before sending it back to your grid. If you have a solar battery, it will not charge the EV until that home battery is filled if you desire this setting.

You will need to be fairly confident on using a smartphone and apps and there's quite a bit to setup on your car.

Electric Vehicle Longer travel (more than 40 miles daily)
This is very problematic. The car has an inbuilt charging app and there are many 3rd party apps to help you find charging points. They don't always accurately tell you which are working or broken and there may be a long queue (1 vehicles counts as a long cue as 1 vehicle may be using the charge point for anything up to 1.5 hours to get a full charge from a 'fast charger').

Differing driving conditions will affect how far you can drive. Don't expect to get 300 miles off this battery in Winter or if you're carrying a full passenger load with luggage. Any appliances that you use will reduce your battery capacity on a long drive (eg heating, lighting, satnavs, phone charging, equipment charging if you're a photographer etc).

I was told by the Hyundai dealer that to keep the EV battery working properly, I shouldn't charge higher than 80% of the battery's capacity. So you lose an additional 20% of your range.

Using an EV will reduce your running costs by about 50%. The downside is whether or not you'll find a charging point and the safety concerns over driving in snow and icy conditions.

Petrol/Diesel Local travel (more than 40 miles daily)
On a new petrol/diesel vehicle the range is consistent. Older vehicle's ranges may be affected by inconsistent servicing, differing oils and fuel grades.  Appliances such as mobile phones etc are easily managed re charging on long drives via the alternator.  Using the appropriate gear saves fuel too and some new cars have 6.

No issues on refuelling, fill up as normal and there's no shortage of fuel stations. Just be more careful when journeying into more remote locations and keep your tank full.  You can also carry spare fuel in jerry cans (20 litres) or plastic containers (10 litres) - the containers need to be robust and appropriately labelled.  You also need to carry an appropriate fire extinguisher.

Software/App issues
This will be the most challenging area of using an EV for people that aren't used to smartphones, apps and IT in general.

I found Hyundai's 'Bluelink' app to be very buggy. I had to keep resetting certain values as it wouldn't remember my settings (eg battery charging levels, units of measurment, agreements re changes of policy and charging functions). It would also report the car as unlocked after I knew I had locked the vehicle.

After the first servicing, I was told the car's software/firmware wasn't upgraded because Hyundai's server was down. All of my personalised settings were reset to default - which I didn't notice and had to pull over somewhere safe so that I could see the speedometer reading again in the main console.

I also found the Ford App buggy and inconsistent on the last manual drive petrol car I had (2021).  So this issue isn't limited to EVs.

The Hyundai Kona EV has an autobraking function when you take your foot off the accelerator. You have to remember to disengage the function using the right paddle on the steering column...but it still automatically come back on. If this function were to come on when you hit some black ice, my assessment is that it could be dangerous and could result in the vehicle being put into a skid.  

Petrol/diesel vehicles have no issues that I'm aware of, just normal engine braking which is a lot more gentle.

Extra issues in Winter driving
I drove from Nottingham to Lincoln for a meeting with a full battery.  I parked there over-night and headed back to Nottingham in the morning; that journey 40 miles (one way) drained 50% of the battery.

More awareness is needed on icy/snowy roads as you need a higher gear with lower revs to ensure you don't slip/slide on a road.  Some websites recommend driving this EV on Eco Mode and just applying little taps to get your car going in snowy/icy conditions.  I haven't been able to test this on such conditions and have concerns whether the vehicle would allow me sufficient control as all EVs are automatics and not manual drive. I drive on 'Eco Mode' all the time anyway but I don't feel that this would address the control issue. 

I'd recommend keeping snow chains in your boot in case the roads you use have a blanket of snow on them.  Some modern snow chains are made of rope or fibre, so not as potentially damaging to the road surface.

Petrol/diesel cars batteries are used to start cars and run certain functions/utilities. The alternator in the car keeps the battery charged when you drive.  A 30 minute drive on a motorway keeps your battery charged up and healthy.  Be careful not to plug too may utilities in though.

In conclusion, while wishing to be kinder to the planet, I need to know that I can refuel as and when I need to and I need to know that I can get home when I travel anywhere.  An EV doesn't give me that feeling of security.

I'd like to thank Motability for all their support on this issue.

Villayat Sunkmanitu

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