While urban and / or daily trips by electric car are no longer a concern, taking a trip does not always reassure motorists. Because if the autonomy is more and more generous, the charging networks do not give much confidence. Particularly in France, where the situation deteriorated particularly at the start of the year, with the disappearance of part of the Izivia network, the increase in the Ionity price list and, more generally, the repeated breakdowns and incivilities condemning the ‘access to a terminal.
Of course, some are under the best auspices, including Tesla owners who benefit from a dedicated, dense, reliable and accessible Supercharger network. However, not everyone has the leisure to ride in the Californian brand’s automobiles. Or to live with our neighbors in the east, where the grass is said to be greener. To make sure, we set out on a journey from Nosovice in the Czech Republic to Marseille via Saint-Etienne, the respective strongholds of your servants.
All counters to zero
The starting point is in front of the front doors of Hyundai’s European plant, where the Hyundai Kona 64 kWh goes from the embryonic stage (in the form of a battery cell smaller than a keyboard) to that of ‘an electric crossover we all know. It is therefore this latest version that we will put to the test on European roads and highways to reach our point of arrival on the shores of the Mediterranean. A journey which, let us confess, is rather reassuring. Because since its arrival at the production site in Europe, which significantly reduces delivery times, the Kona Electric has a range of 484 km on a WLTP cycle, or 35 km more than before. If the use of cells supplied by SK Innovation does not seem to participate, the crossover gains in endurance thanks to the appearance of Michelin Primacy 4 tires. Now fitted as standard, the latter prove to be much more convincing than the Nexen N’Fera. SU1 manufactured in South Korea or Zatec, in the west of the Czech Republic.
With the crew and machine fully recharged, it is time to wake up the mechanics of the Hyundai Kona Electric for the first time, except for its test sessions at the end of the line in the factory premises. On the first turn of the key, the range meter shows a generous range of 474 km, which gives us confidence at the start. We choose, however, to adopt a careful preparation of our itinerary, by multiplying the stops at the fast charging stations. Also, this anticipation makes it possible to avoid the many white areas that are in Czechia, which could cause an annoying fuel exhaustion, if not the anxiety of ending up in a tow truck. We then decided to divert the navigation in order to quickly reach Austria via Salzburg and recover the predefined route in the region of Stuttgart, a slight detour of over 200 km compared to traditional planning.
The advantage of charges to Tesla
Our first stop is 269.9 km from our starting point at the Ionity charging station in Hochleithen, north of the Austrian capital. When we arrive in the completely free parking lot, the crossover tells us a remaining range of 150 km (36% battery) and an average consumption of 15.4 kWh / 100 km. The advantage of the motorway network under construction and the small national roads used at the border, which have helped maintain an average speed of 89.67 km / h. Connection to the terminal is as easy as with the Ionity terminals that we know and the use of a Chargemap card will be necessary to activate billing at the price of 0.86 € / kWh. Very quickly, the Hyundai Kona peaked at the maximum charging power of 75 kW. In less than five minutes, we regain the necessary autonomy to reach our hotel, where a facility provided by Lidl is located nearby. For the purposes of the exercise, we push the recharge to 83% battery, after recovering 35 kWh in 40 minutes. In this case, the logic of billing based on energy consumed rather than waiting time makes perfect sense.
After a 196 km journey, we arrive in front of the hotel located in the town of Sankt Valentin. On our arrival, the Lidl terminal in question, which offers a 50 kW Combo CCS socket, is closed and accessible only during store opening hours. So we turn to the hotel facility, which has two completely free AC Tesla charging points, one reserved for California cars and the other open to all electric vehicles. At the end of this second stage, where we recorded an average of 15.9 kWh (at 86.22 km / h on average), we leave the Kona plugged in all night. By making the most of the 11 kW of its on-board charger, the crossover then tells us a recharge time of 4:50 to go from 36% to 100% battery.
376 km trip on a non-stop charge? It’s possible
The next day, the course is set for Germany, which we will cross from east to west to reach our hotel on the outskirts of Besançon. A hearty stage of nearly 880 km spent mostly on the motorways. From the first kilometers, the navigation makes us follow the bucolic Austrian secondary roads very frequented by roaming trucks. The average speed limiting consumption to the lowest even allows us to do without a carefully preset charging stop to target an EnBW terminal 376 km away. An adaptation made possible by the confidence we place in the perfectly calibrated vehicle range display and by the availability of a network in the event of a surprise. In accordance with our forecasts, we arrived safely but flushed at the German grid terminal with 12% battery and 49 km of autonomy remaining.
This shutdown, lasting just over an hour at the terminal, recovered 58 kWh. However, it should be noted that at this stage, it was not so much the vehicle that demanded such a long break, but our various human needs (the previous trip lasted almost 4:30), the shooting of our images and our desire to ” study the power curve over charging. Especially since the operator terminals supplied by Alpitronic keep their promises with a generous output of 300 kW, while that of the Kona does not drop desperately on approach and beyond 80%. Thus, the Korean crossover went from 12% to 93% at an average charging power of 49 kW.
The only downside: the price of the recharge. Because if the solution of double billing per kWh and per minute seems to bring together the best of both worlds (a solution to be considered in France?), This recharging, which went well beyond our needs in autonomy, it is true, was invoiced at a total price of € 55.52. We should also add that a credit card payment system would also be an absolute necessity. Especially for this crew of Italians who came to recharge their Smart EQ Fortwo, without any season ticket in their pockets. Even after scanning the flashcode and entering the bank details on the dedicated website, the recharge could never be activated.
Spikes in speed that are not enough of the battery’s capacities
Back on the road, the available load pushes us to explore all the mechanical potential of the Hyundai Kona without second thoughts on the very rare portions without speed limit. The Kona then demonstrates an astonishing mechanical health with satisfactory performance. In this unique setting, the crossover very quickly hits its bridle of 178 km / h, after a slight hollow at around 150-160 km / h. At legal pace in France, the crossover will offer its recovery capabilities much more often, with an 80-120 km / h chronometer by us in almost 6.0 seconds.
These happy exercises also shed light on the charge management of the Kona and the performance of the active cooling of the battery. At the end of these 212 km, we connect the Kona to another EnBW fast charging station with 194 km of autonomy remaining (an average consumption of 15.4 kW). Despite the heavy load on the battery, it was able to recover 33.9 kWh at a still correct power of 39.9 kW, going from 48% to 94%.
Return to France
The traffic becoming less dense and the arrival in France helping, the average average speed increases considerably over the last 288.8 km of this day, including nearly 40 km spent in a vacuum after missing the motorway exit leading at our hotel. Limiting itself to a controlled consumption due to the low speeds recorded in Germany, the Kona climbed here to 16.1 kWh, causing the load to drop from 94% to 10% (43 km of autonomy remaining).
The AC terminal installed in the hotel parking lot delivering a maximum power of 11 kW made it possible to refuel during the night to calmly resume the journey of this last day of the roadtrip. It is also in this parking lot that we encounter the first incivility, with an Audi SQ5 unnecessarily occupying a terminal. Fortunately, attendance at this time of year leaves other holds available.
The next day, autonomy and load management allowed us to make some adaptations to our original program and to target the Ionity station in the Mionnay area, north of Lyon, located 229 km from Besançon. After 42 minutes of charging at a price of € 0.871 / minute, we unplug the Kona, which then displays 86% and 339 km of range. That’s ten kilometers less to reach the final finish line in Marseille. A fifth and final rapid recharge will therefore be necessary on the Ionity installation in Morières to swallow 26.52 kWh and climb to 61% load.
No, traveling by electric is not slower than by thermal
After a two-and-a-half-day journey, it is time to take stock. As usual, the Hyundai Kona Electric 64 kWh was perfectly at ease for exercise, delivering its innumerable electrical qualities, but also its few shortcomings such as the damping and the always firm seats on long journeys. But that’s not the main focus of our precisely 1,915.3 km journey. On arrival, the on-board computer told us an average consumption of 16.4 kWh / 100 km for an average speed of 88.9 km / h, spent under a mild temperature rarely exceeding 25 °, making it possible to not use the air conditioning considerably.
On the other hand, this trip through Europe has enabled us to observe the delay in the ignition in terms of electric mobility in certain countries, such as Poland or the Czech Republic. On the other hand, and unsurprisingly, Austria and Germany offer various solutions that make it easy to handle long-haul travel. To this must also be added very favorable road conditions for electric cars: between the not very generous limitations, the portions on secondary roads, the general congestion and the work areas, the average speeds recorded are always favorable for the batteries. Proof of this is with our average speeds of 77.78 km / h in Austria and 86.15 km / h in Germany, the country of speed if there is one. It was finally in France where we printed the fastest pace with an average of 97.33 km / h. This is also where consumption mechanically increased, but stabilized at around 18 kWh / 100 km.
In addition, it should be noted that we have never really used eco-driving techniques and have remained, in 95% of cases, looking legal and with the flow of traffic. In other words, the travel times and speeds indicated here would be perfectly similar with a thermal, hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle, regardless of the power level. Also, the total highway charging time was 4:02, which is the equivalent of a 30-minute break every two hours on the road. Enough to brush aside the misconception that electric car trips are generally longer due to the refueling exercise. But let’s face it, we were well helped by the Kona’s performance in this area.
No, traveling by electric is not more affordable
During these nearly 2,000 km of road, we have used the fast charging stations of the Ionity and EnBW networks five times. We also used the hotel AC terminals twice, one of which was completely free. In the end, the bill came to € 205.30, or € 10.72 / 100 km.
For comparison, a 120 hp Hyundai Kona 1.0 liter T-GDi petrol has already admitted in my hands a price of € 9.95 / 100 km through a roadtrip between Paris and Saint-Petersburg. It is not much higher, but the fault here lies with a motorway charging network with salty price schedules. Particularly in France where the application of a rate per minute generates a systematically higher rating than if we were billed per kWh. The realization of the harmonization projects across Europe suggested by the German Minister of Transport should therefore address this aspect, as should that of payment by bank card in order to avoid possible complications. Traveling around Europe by electric is just as easy and quick as any other car, but it doesn’t get any more accessible. So imagine with one of those SUVs with more than 90 kWh of battery or other slower models at the terminal.