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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Audi A7 will be available later this year in a plug-in hybrid format.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi has revealed the third plug-in hybrid in its lineup, the 2021 A7 55 TFSI e, a powerful option for executive car buyers. It joins the Audi Q5 TFSI e and Audi A8 TFSI e as the only PHEVs in the company's U.S. lineup.

The A7 gets its power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with an electric motor and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The car has a total system output of 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is standard.

Audi's new sedan can run as a hybrid or on all-electric power. Drivers can utilize the vehicle in three drive modes: hybrid, EV, and Battery Hold. Hybrid mode is activated automatically when the navigation system is issuing guidance in order to optimize battery power and reduce fuel consumption. In EV mode, the car exclusively uses battery power up to a certain speed. Battery Hold mode utilizes the car's powertrain to keep the battery capacity at its current level.

2021 Audi A7 55 TSFI e Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The A7 holds its lithium-ion battery under the rear cargo area of the sportback sedan. Final EPA-estimated fuel economy and range numbers are pending. The 14.1-kilowatt-hour battery features 104 pouch cells with a voltage of 381 volts.

Audi's predictive efficiency assist technology adjust the vehicle's behavior to save on fuel. According to the automaker, ". Detectable haptic feedback from the accelerator pedal and a visual signal in the MMI and head-up display indicate the proper time to let off the accelerator to use as much kinetic energy as possible."

The model comes standard with Audi's S line exterior package, which includes specific front and rear fascia designs, fender badgers, and illuminated doorsill inlays. The car also has Matrix-design LED headlights, high beam assist, quad-zone automatic climate control, Audi advanced key, Audi Virtual Cockpit, ad PHEV-specific displays within the infotainment system and cockpit. It rides on 20-inch Audi Sport five-twin-arm wheels wrapped in all-season tires.

The roster of standard features continues with audible low-speed exterior e Sound, a top view camera with Virtual 360 view, Integrated Toll Module, the Audi MIB 3 infotainment operating system, heated front seats, and leather upholstery for all five passengers.

A variety of packages are available.

Audi Virtual Cockpit now displays speed reductions, including those for speed limits, tow signs, curves, downward slopes, traffic circles, intersections, and highway exits.

The fresh version of the A7 can be charged at any SAE J1772 charging station or at home. Audi has partnered with Amazon Home for home charger installation should a vehicle buyer decide they want to install a charger at their residence. Charging can be monitored via the myAudi app.

The 2021 Audi A7 TFSI e starts at $74,900, a $5,000 increase over the base gasoline-only A7 55 TSFI. It will be available in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels (the traditional A7 55 is available in three, including the lower grade Premium offering).

Audi says that customers who purchase purchasing the 2021 Audi A7 55 TFSI e will be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $6,712. Additional state incentives may also be available.

The model is expected to arrive in dealerships later this year.

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The Zero SR/F and SR/S are part of the Cash for Carbon offer.

Photo courtesy of Zero Motorcycles

The all-electric lineup of Zero Motorcycles delivers the power and performance many motorcyclists are seeking without a drop of fuel. Now, the automaker is delivering a deal on them as well.

Through August 15, buyers can trade-in any gas motorcycle for a $1,500 instant credit for any new Zero SR/S or SR/F motorcycle. This amount is in addition to any trade in value Zero dealerships are currently offering. When combined with the North America Federal Tax Credit buyers have the potential of saving nearly $4,000 on a new model.

The 2020 Zero Motorcycles SR/F is a looker with true motorcycle design and plenty of power.Photo courtesy of Zero Motorcycles

The Zero SR/S has a top speed 124 mph and can deliver 110 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of peak torque. The company says that it takes about 80 minutes to charge its 14.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery to 95 percent with the 6-kilowatt-hour Rapid Charge upgrade. It has 161 miles of range in city driving, which an be upgraded to 200 miles of range with the available Power Tank.

Zero's SR/F is a more performance-focused motorcycle than the SR/S. It offers the same power specs as the SR/S but is 20 pounds lighter (485 vs 505 in standard trims and 498 vs. 516 in premium trims). Despite being lighter, the SR/F can carry more weight (515 vs 495 pounds in standard trims and 502 vs. 484 in premium trims).

With the $1,500 credit but without other discounts and credits factored in, the Zero SR/S starts at $19,995 and the SR/F starts $500 lower at $19,495.

Zero says that each full charge of the motorcycles costs just $1.61.

The motorcycles come standard with a two-year standard motorcycle warranty and a five-year/unlimited miles power pack warranty.

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