A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How the 1,000-HP Hyundai Kona EV Rally Car Was Built

After just 18 months of development, former Hyundai works WRC driver Hayden Paddon showed off his vicious all-electric Hyundai Kona rally car recently. He plans to race the 1,000 hp-capable car against ICE-powered machines in 2022.
Hyundai Kona EV 8 photos
Photo: Paddon Rallysport Group
Hyundai Kona EVHyundai Kona EVHyundai Kona EVHyundai Kona EVPaddon Rallysport Group TeamHyundai Kona EV ChassisHyundai Kona EV Electric Motor
While motorsport already benefits from electric power in various forms, rallying presents by far the biggest challenge, and making this ever-evolving technology work in the most demanding environments is no easy task.

Built by Paddon Rallysport Group (PRG), this insane race car started to take shape in 2017. A year later, a group of bright young engineers and technicians started to outline the basis of this ambitious project.

The goal was to combine performance, range, and reliability into a race car capable of competing in a traditional rally format against normal ICE-powered competition.

In January 2019, the team set up base at the spectacular Highlands Motorsport Park located only 45 minutes from Queenstown, New Zealand.

The basis was now in place to start the development of the EV concept that they had spent the last year planning for.

Paddon Rallysport Group Team
Photo: Paddon Rallysport Group
Another eight months of design work and the chassis modifications could begin. After stripping the brand-new Hyundai Kona to a bare shell, the team worked on lightening it as much as possible to compensate for the extra weight of the batteries.

Modified strut towers and suspension points were added, and work begun on a whole new floor and battery mounting.

At the same time, the development of the electronic systems, powertrain, and battery pack continued with the help of Stohl Advanced Research and Development (STARD), the company responsible for creating World Rallycross Championship Projekt E cars.

In February 2020, the modified chassis was already taking shape, with extensive strengthening almost completed.

The TIG (tungsten inert gas) welded Chromoly roll cage was also finished, while the suspension setup was chosen. The rally car would soon be fitted with EXT Shox MacPherson struts and five-way adjustable dampers.

Hyundai Kona EV Chassis
Photo: Paddon Rallysport Group
The same month STARD delivered the Brusa BLDC 220 kw (295 hp) motors, twin transmission, and inverters, whilst engineers were finalizing designs of auxiliary components, including cooling and power steer systems.

By May, the steel bodyshell was finished, and dummy fitting of subframes and other major components cloud begin. Developed alongside the University of Canterbury, the custom aero kit was also delivered.

The next part of the process was probably the hardest as the team began building new high and low voltage wiring looms, integrating all the electric components and required tech to make sure the car is compliant with rally regulations.

Hyundai Kona EV Electric Motor
Photo: Paddon Rallysport Group
Development also continued on the unique sound generator and electrical power-assisted rack and pinion steering system.

Working with UCM and Southern Ocean boat builders, the full carbon fiber body kit was almost completed by early September.

Inside, Racetech seats, belts, and steering wheel were fitted as the cockpit was taking shape. Next up were the MoTec M1 management system, keypad, PDU, and driver displays.

Hyundai Kona EV
Photo: Paddon Rallysport Group
After over 10,000 hours of design and manufacturing, the incredible Kona EV rally car was assembled in October 2020. Initial tests, filming, and photo sessions were done that month before the official reveal took place in November.

The EV is capable of developing a total of 800 kW, which is the equivalent of 1,072 hp, but will be tuned to produce less so that it can compete with current ICE-powered cars in official rally events.

While still raw, the machine is an amazing feat of engineering by an incredibly talented team. It showcases the endless possibilities of electric powertrains in one of the most brutal motorsports out there. We can’t wait to see what it can do in an actual competition.

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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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