Hyundai Kona Electric aims for nationwide sales but starts with narrow focus
When will it reach all 50 states? That's a question currently lacking an answer.
Andrew KrokReviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
The 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric will go on sale in 2019, but if you're holding out for one and you don't live in an EV-friendly corner of the country, you might be left waiting for a while.
Electric will be limited to select markets in the first phases of its introduction. It will be available first in California, followed by, as
so cryptically notes in a press release, "ZEV-focused states in the western and northeastern regions of the US market." Hyundai offers no specifics in its press release beyond that.
Mike O'Brien, Hyundai's vice president for product planning, offered a little more explanation on the Kona Electric's preview drive earlier this month. O'Brien said sales will be limited to so-called "ZEV" (zero-emission vehicle) states at first. These states require automakers to produce zero-emissions vehicles alongside their traditional offerings.
Thus far, nine states have adopted California's ZEV policy: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. This policy helped create what is known as the "compliance car," or a car sold only in specific markets to ensure adherence to the ZEV policy. Vehicles like the
Honda Fit EV
Ford Focus Electric
Kia Soul EV
were introduced in certain states for this reason. So, these will be the states where the Kona Electric will be sold first.
"Our goal is to launch in several states, but we're not sure we're going to be able to do that right away," O'Brien said during the Kona's drive program. All Kona Electric models will be built in South Korea, and high demand out of the gate will lead to supply constraints in some markets, including the US. Thus, Hyundai is focusing the early stages of the car's launch on the markets that will have the best potential for sales. The ZEV-state launch will continue for an indefinite period.
This makes the Kona Electric's launch similar to the
Chevrolet Bolt EV
. The Bolt EV was only offered in California and Oregon when it launched in late 2016, expanding to additional ZEV states in early 2017 before launching nationwide in August 2017, a month ahead of schedule. However, the Bolt EV's sole production facility was located in Michigan. Hopefully, Hyundai's Kona Electric launch won't take too long, considering its very promising (and Bolt EV-beating) range.
The 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric is a fun EV with a solid driving range