WRC Hyundai driver launches EV rally car
Former Hyundai works WRC driver Hayden Paddon has launched one of the world’s first electric rally cars, the Kona EV.
Paddon hopes to introduce a “new era for rallying” with the car that has been designed in-house at the Paddon Rallysport (PRG) facility close to Queenstown, with the chassis design, engineering, aerodynamics, suspension, steering, cooling, and electrics all being completed by Paddon’s team.
It benefits from a technical partnership with Stohl Advanced Research and Development (STARD), which is also responsible for developing the ‘REVelution’ electric powertrain for the World Rallycross Championship’s Projekt E support category.
The car features a modernised aero package reminiscent of current World Rally Championship (WRC) cars. When in rally spec, it weighs in at around 1,400 kg and has the same suspension travel as a WRC car.
Paddon said: “The car is faster on paper than an ICE (internal combustion engine) 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.”
He added: “I’m incredibly proud of our team who have put their heart and soul into this car. There is a little bit of all of us in it and it wouldn’t be possible without the amazing team we have. So, a massive thank you from the bottom of my heart for them to believe in me and trust me to make our vision a reality.”
The former Rally Argentina winner added that the Kona EV would run with a power output comparable to its petrol-engined rivals when it arrives on the stages.
“The EV package is capable of over 800 kW, 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,” said Paddon.
“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.”
Paddon is working closely with motorsport bodies to integrate EV technology into the sporting regulations for conventional rallies. There are numerous considerations such as how EV cars are serviced between rally stages, regulations on changing battery packs, charging systems, vehicle weight, and chassis structure, and the safety of the driver and co-driver and rally marshals during competition and in the event of a crash.
Paddon added: “Finding the way to move forward with EV technology is something we identify as being very important for the future of our sport, not only in New Zealand but globally.
“If the sport doesn’t respond, it will be left behind commercially and technologically compared to other motorsports.”