Automotive Engineering - February 2024 - 16

ROAD READY
Regardless of powertrain, 2024 Hyundai Kona benefits from
EV-first design plan
As Hyundai was starting design work
on the new 2024 Kona in March 2020,
the company decided to focus on making
the youth-oriented SUV's design
work for the EV version first, with the
idea that, later on, the ICE and hybrid
powertrains could be adapted to fit.
" Normally, you look at ICE and you
The 2024 Hyundai Kona will be
available with both an all-electric
or a gasoline powertrain.
have an EV version, " said Kevin Kang,
senior design manager for Hyundai
Design North America. " The EV design
is kind of an afterthought, but for the
Kona, we decided to design it first as an
EV model, and that really let us break
free from the norm. "
Designing a vehicle around an electric
drivetrain while keeping in mind
room for ICE components resulted in
two main areas of improvement, Kang
said: better aerodynamics and more
interior space. The result is a more cohesive
front end, with a right-sized
grille and an overall aerodynamic and
efficient shape.
Kang said his design team took input
from the engineers to define the height
of the suspension shock towers to ensure
that the hood was low and sleek,
for example, and to determine the minimal
possible size for the grille.
" When you design an internal-combustion
SUV, for example, one of the
typical things you do is actually exaggerate
the height of the hood, " he said.
" I mean, even if there's nothing in there,
you want to make sure that it looks really
brutal and almost very masculine.
But we wanted to go the other way.
Because we went in the EV-first direction,
both EV and ICE are able to benefit
from a basically lower drag coefficient "
of 0.30, compared to the previous
model's 0.32.
" We were kind of happy to find out
that ICE vehicles don' need a big grille, "
he said. " Believe it or not, internal-combustion
engines and EVs actually share a
lot of things that go in front of the hood. "
The ICE-powered 2024 Kona will use
one of two engines in the U.S. The base
model has a 2.0-L Atkinson-cycle 4-cyl.
that produces an estimated 147 hp and
132 lb-ft (179 Nm). The more powerful
option in the N Line and Limited trims is a
1.6-L direct-injected, turbocharged 4-cyl.
that produces an estimated 190 hp and
195 lb-ft (264 Nm). The Kona Electric's
motors produce either 99 kW (133 hp)
and 188 lb-ft (255 Nm) in the shorterrange
model with a 48.6-kWh battery or
150 kW (201 hp) and 188 lb-ft In the extended
version with a 64.8-kWh battery.
The EV-first design also resulted in
more interior cargo space, Kang said.
Since EVs can have a completely flat
floor, the design team asked the powertrain
engineers if they could optimize
the transmission tunnel for height. That
meant playing around with the size of
the battery pack, the thickness of the
carpet and the sheet metal beneath.
" When you look at a big, all-wheel
The center console of the 2024 Hyundai Kona provides more storage due to the SUV's EV-first
design brief.
16 February 2024
drive vehicle, there's almost no console
storage because the tunnel is so high
because all of the drivetrain is in there, "
he said. " But for this car, we're able to
push that down and optimize the console
storage so that it conveys a sense
that it's more airy. "
Sebastian Blanco
AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING
BOTH IMAGES: HYUNDAI

Automotive Engineering - February 2024

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