Electric Vehicles

Hyundai Kona Electric wins Norwegian cold weather range test

Hyundai tested the model in the snow before ever sending it to dealerships.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Europe

Driving at low temperatures can deplete battery usage. Between power it takes to move the car, a heater running, heated seats on, and the climate control fan running, driving an electric vehicle (EV) in the cold isn't an ideal use case. Hyundai and Kia which share common ownership, are aiming to change that with heat pump innovation.

The short of it is that the latest design allows EV drivers to heat their car's cabin in cold weather without significantly impacting electric driving range, unlike other EVs. This also means that drivers can expect more consistent range prediction numbers from their propulsion system.

Hyundai Kona EV snow During development, the Koan EV was tested by Hyundai in Lapland, Sweden, where temperatures are extremely cold.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Europe

Kia introduced the technology in 2014 on the Soul EV. There, it was made up of a compressor, evaporator, and condenser. The heat pump captured waste heat given off by the car's electrical components and recycled it into the cabin.

Further development has moved the technology into other Kia and Hyundai products while increasing the number of sources it gets heat from, making range even more predictable. The pump now gathers heat from drive motors, on-board chargers, inverters, the battery pack, and slow charger.

Recently, the Norwegian Automotive Federation compared 20 electric vehicles that are sold in Norway in cold and warm weather conditions, analyzing which had the most consistent driving range and charging performance. They compared this to the range claimed by each EV's manufacturer.

The Hyundai Kona Electric took the crown. It traveled 405 km in the cold compared to its claimed range of 448 km (WLTP combined cycle). In severe cold weather, the Kona Electric delivered 91 percent of its promised WLTP combined range.

Other vehicles tested include: Audi Quattro 50, Audi Quattro 55, BMW i3 120Ah, Hyundai Ioniq, Jaguar I-Pace, Kia e-Niro (Niro EV), Kia e-Soul (Soul EV), Mercedes EQC, Nissan Leaf 40kWt, Nissan Leaf 62kWt (Plus), Opel Ampera-e, Renault Zoe, Seat Mii Electric, Skoda Citigo-E, Tesla Model X, Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen e-Golf, and the Volkswagen e-Up.

To test the vehicles, "ordinary" drivers drove the vehicles in a variety of conditions on country and city roads, as well as highways, following the speed limit. All the cars were charged indoors overnight and all range tests were done with a cold start and no pre-heating.

Each model was test driven in Eco mode (or similar) with the cabin temperature set to 21°C and the seat warmer on the lowest setting. Each driver actively used regeneration.

The test drive route took drivers from Oslo, where it was 3°C with sleet coming down. The coldest temperature during the test was -6°C and during most of the drive it was snowing. Speeds varied from 60 km/h to 100 km/h.

It's important to note that tire diameter, topography, and driving style all play a role in range as well.

On average, the vehicles tested drove 20 percent shorter than their advertised range. Hyundai, Audi, and Kia vehicles performed the best in the testing. Tesla and Opel models were the farthest off from their WLTP estimates.

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The Volvo C40 Recharge is a couple-like version of the XC40.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Earlier this week, Volvo announced that it is going all-in on electric vehicles by 2030. Now it's showing off its latest model, a take on the XC40 Recharge - the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge.

Taking a note from the Audi playbook, the C40 Recharge is a sloped roof version of the XC40 Recharge. It has sleeker design than its predecessor even though they both ride on the same platform. The face of the model shows off a new design path for Volvo and has headlights with state-of-the-art pixel technology, something also on the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Volvo has given the car an electric powertrain that consists of two electric motors, one on the front axle and one at the back, which are powered by a 78-kilowatt-hour battery that can be charged to 80 percent in 40 minutes. It has an expected range of 260 miles.

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

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The C40 Recharge offers a high seating position and is available in a large range of color ways. It is the first Volvo model to be completely leather-free. Volvo has given the model its infotainment system, which runs on Android technology. Apps such as Google Maps, Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store are built in. The tech allows for over-the-air updates.

Volvo will only sell the C40 Recharge online and it will come with a care package.

"The C40 Recharge represents the future of Volvo and shows where we are going," said Henrik Green, chief technology officer. "It is fully electric, offered online only with a convenient care package and will be available for quick delivery. Getting a new Volvo was never this attractive."

The XC40 was Volvo's first all-electric car. Volvo promises additional electric models are on their way in the coming years. The automaker predicts that by 2025, 50 percent of its global sales volume will consist of fully electric cars. The rest will be hybrids. To achieve this, Volvo is expected to lean heavily on the Asian and European markets where EVs are more popular with buyers due to government regulation.

The C40 Recharge will go in production this fall and will be built alongside the XC40 Recharge at the Volvo Cars manufacturing plant in Ghent, Belgium.

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Volvo is transitioning to an all-electric lineup.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo Cars is the latest company to take their commitment to electric powertrains to a new level. Unlike other automakers, like Land Rover who is promising an electric option for its model lineup, Volvo is planning to make their whole lineup electric by 2030.

This means that there will only be all-electric cars and SUVs in its global portfolio and all internal combustion engine and hybrid models will be phased out. By 2025, it aims for 50 percent of its global sales to consist of fully electric cars, with the rest hybrids. By 2040, the company hopes to be carbon neutral. Nissan has similar goals.

Volvo XC40 The Volvo XC40 is currently offered as an all-electric model.Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo XC40

Additionally, the brand is rolling out a new commercial strategy that will have them invest heavily in online sales channels in a move to reduce the complexity of its product offerings and set pricing on models, eliminating bargaining at the point of sale, something that the Saturn brand was known for. Via VolvoCars.com buyers will be able to choose from pre-configured electric Volvos that are ready for ordering and quick delivery.

"The future of Volvo Cars is defined by three pillars: electric, online and growth," says Lex Kerssemakers, Head of Global Commercial Operations at Volvo Cars. "We want to offer our customers peace of mind and a care-free way of having a Volvo, by taking away complexity while getting and driving the car. Simplification and convenience are key to everything we do."

Customer offerings will all be housed under one brand, Care by Volvo, which was, until now, the name of the company's subscription service platform.

Dealerships and sales associates still factor into the company's plans. That's good, because many states require new car sales to occur only though an authorized dealership, a point of contention for emerging brands due to the expense and logistic annoyance of establishing a dealer network. Dealerships will be tasked with "a variety of important services such as selling, preparing, delivering and servicing cars" according to a release.

Volvo online ordering and financing process

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

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"Online and off-line need to be fully and seamlessly integrated," added Lex Kerssemakers. "Wherever the customer is in their journey – online, in a showroom, in a Volvo Studio, or driving the car – the customer experience needs to be top-notch."

The purchase of an electric Volvo will include a package of traditional extras including service, warranty, roadside assistance, insurance (where available), and home charging options. Sans the insurance, many electric vehicle manufacturers offer these extras already.

"There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine," said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars. "We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only car maker and the transition should happen by 2030. It will allow us to meet the expectations of our customers and be a part of the solution when it comes to fighting climate change."

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