Hyundai Reassures Dealers as Battery Shortage Adds Dark Clouds to Kona Electric Launch
By all accounts, the Hyundai Kona Electric is a zippy little crossover endowed with surprising range and the same basic utility as its gas-powered sibling, minus the whole all-wheel drive thing. However, a battery shortage afflicting the Korean automaker has added uncertainty to a model arriving on American shores this year.
Will it actually show up when a customer wants one?
Don’t worry about that, Hyundai’s telling dealers. There’s a plan to get Kona Electrics to America.
As reported by Wards Auto, Mike O’Brien, vice-president of product planning for Hyundai Motor America, recently travelled to the automaker’s HQ to ensure supply would be met. He was told that production of the 258-mile vehicle, already a hit in Europe, would get a boost.
“Our top management simply told us, ‘We’re going to make sure you have enough.’ So we’re going to be all-in on the Kona EV,” O’Brien said. The plan is for EV-hungry California to serve as the first recipient of the subcompact crossover. Shortly after that, the Kona Electric arrives in U.S. states that conform to California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate. The automaker has ordered the installation of three charging plugs at dealers in those states.
While ZEV jurisdictions remain the company’s chief focus, Hyundai claims that any buyer who pays for a Kona Electric, regardless of location, will get one.
It’s hard to gauge demand for the vehicle. In Norway, a country that snaps up EVs like it’s its job, 20,000 orders for the Kona Electrics turned into 7,000 sold orders, Wards Auto reports. The company has already pushed up its production forecast once. While this increase in anticipated demand ran head-on into an existing lithium-ion battery shortage, Hyundai says it has a second supplier ready to deliver the cells.
“Battery capacity is a bottleneck, but we’re working that out right now,” O’Brien said “We’re very fortunate one of our sister companies is helping us with that. So that’s going to help us a lot in terms of being able to respond rapidly to the market.”
The publication notes that Enercell, Hyundai Motor Group’s only battery subsidiary, does not build lithium-ion batteries, adding a bit of mystery to the issue. Other companies in the Hyundai supply chain have the capability, but aren’t members of the group.