Hayden Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand have revealed their fully electric Kona rally car — a comprehensively rebuilt, modified car that Paddon rates as “one of the top three achievements of my career”.
While it isn’t the first electric rally car, it does claim to be the first electric rally car capable of competing in full-length rallying events. Built by Paddon Rallysport Group in conjunction with Austrian outfit Stohl Advanced Research and Development and the University of Canterbury, construction of the Kona rally car was scheduled to be completed in April earlier this year, but was delayed by the impact of Covid-19.
The rally car features WRC-style aerodynamics with boxed arches and more. Paddon boasts that it produces more power than the iconic Group B rally cars of the 1980s. While power wasn’t specifically confirmed, PRG says it produces over 400kW from its electric powertrain.
The Kona rally car can be driven in either a dual-motor, tri-motor, or quad-motor setting, with power being sent through a twin transmission. The Brusa-sourced BLDC motors create peak power of 220kW each, and up to 1100Nm of torque. To manage heat the Kona comes equipped with a custom cooling system, while power is managed via a MoTec M1 system with PDU interface.
Front and rear torque vectoring, Pirelli rubber (15-inch Evo Corse with gravel tyres or 18-inch Evo Corse wheels with tarmac tyres), and a bespoke MacPherson strut system with five-way adjustable dampers helps connect the power to the road. Despite its batteries, the Kona weighs approximately 1500kg.
“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” said Paddon.
“The EV package is capable of over 800kW, 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.
“While for some of you this might just seem like just another car, I can tell you it’s much more. As a team we want to take PRG to the world stage to compete in world motorsport championships in the next 10 years. We are a small team of just seven people, which makes this feat […] even more satisfying.”
Paddon said when he first heard the idea of an electric rally car, he laughed. But, after some contemplation, he “saw a window of opportunity”. The former domestic champ now says electrification of the sport needs to be accelerated. “The sport of rallying needs to evolve, and it needs to evolve quickly before it gets left behind. And EVs are the solution,” he said.
“It’s a very proud moment for Hyundai New Zealand, and especially for Hayden. It’s something we’re really looking forward to,” added Andy Sinclair, General Manager of Hyundai New Zealand.
“We went through the highs and lows of Hayden’s rally career. […] Personally, I think his WRC career isn’t over, there’s more to come. And this might be a sign of things to come.”
Sinclair went on to add that Paddon’s next project will be to build a hydrogen-powered rally car, likely similar to the brand’s Nexo model.
“We were immediately behind [the project]. It fits behind Hyundai New Zealand’s vision. […] We knew it was a huge project, and we knew Hayden would deliver on it. We look forward to the next evolution, which is going to be a hydrogen rally car.”