Tuesday, Aug 20 11:42am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Hayden Paddon to build groundbreaking all-electric Hyundai Kona rally car

Cromwell-based outfit Paddon Rallysport Group will embark on a “world-first” project to transform a Hyundai Kona into an all-electric rally car.


Hyundai New Zealand have again paired up with Hayden Paddon for the new project that will be designed, developed, and built at the Paddon Rallysport Group (PRG) base.


The ambition is to build a Hyundai Kona rally car that can run full length rallies by 2021. The first prototype is expected to be fully functioning by April 2020. While not the first all-electric rally car built, the goal is to be the first electric rally car to complete a full length rally. 

Paddon Rallysport Group are based out of Highlands Innovation and Technology Park, adjacent to the 4.1km racing facility.


Since Paddon took leasehold of the workshop in Cromwell, speculation about his involvement with electric-powered rally cars has swirled.


As the motoring industry becomes more hybrid and electric focused, motor racing is following suit with series like Formula E getting off the ground and Formula 1 adding hybrid elements.


The FIA World Rally Championship is also investigating options for the future with electric or hybrid cars set to feature from 2022.


All-electric rallycross series have also been established, but with races lasting only a few laps the range is limited for those cars. By contrast, the Paddon project aims to build an electric rally car that can contest a full length rally.


Paddon is getting in relatively early, effectively with the aim to be a world leader in the motor racing industry.


The project is being supported by Stohl Advanced Research and Development (STARD) in

Austria and the University of Canterbury Engineering Facility, through their University of Canterbury Motorsport (UCM) unit.


“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,” Paddon said.


“Alternative energy powerplants 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.”


Paddon said the engineering challenge to get the car optimized for rallying will be difficult. He’s also conscious that the car need to make all the right sounds too, not only for the enjoyment of fans but for safety too.


“From some of the EV technology that already exists, performance is already there – some cars have up to 1000bhp (745kW).


“It’s how you harness that performance for rallying, for example with torque vectoring for gravel/low grip situations and the range needed to complete a full day’s rallying.


“I’m committed to making sure our car creates the kind of noise a rally fan enjoys. From an entirely practical point of view, a rally car needs to create a loud and distinctive sound for the safety of officials, marshals, media and spectators out viewing the rally action.


“Rallying opens up more challenges compared to circuit racing in terms of range, charging systems and sound, and when we find solutions for these elements, many will be applicable to the general road user/EV car owner.”


The team are also working on fire and safety systems, safety processes for rally event personnel and charging systems.


The first prototype will contest limited domestic rallies in 2020. The aim is to be able to extend the range of the car by 2021 while a second prototype is also built and developed.