Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai Kona EV rally car ran for the first time last week and remains on target for its early November launch.
The former Rally Argentina winner completed a successful roll-out of the car at the Highlands Motorsport Park near Queenstown. Following the Auckland launch on November 4, the Kona will be seen in public for the first time when Paddon completes demonstration runs at the Battle of Jacks Ridge on November 15.
“It was 100% pride when I drove the car for the first time,” Paddon told DirtFish. “Everybody’s been working so hard here to make this happen – some of the guys have been putting in 100-hour weeks to get here. So yeah, the roll out was a special moment.
“And it went absolutely to plan, no problems at all. We were only running the car at 30% power, but the responsiveness from the car is so obvious. The other thing that became obvious is how much more straightforward the Kona EV is compared with a conventional rally car – the number of mechanical, moving parts is significantly less.”
STARD is supplying the battery, inverter, and motor to a car which is expected to offer around 900bhp in hillclimb mode. For longer rallies, around half of that power output will be produced from the 1500 kg machine.
While the roll-out was a significant milestone for Paddon’s seven-strong team, the next deadline is looming large.
“We’ve got six weeks before the launch,” said Paddon. “The car’s been stripped ready for a new build with some additional design, fabrication and assembly work.
“The aim is to have the car out on a full-length rally this time next year, but obviously we’ve got a lot of testing to get through before then which will all be done on event and publicly.
“It’s great to work with this team. Like I said, there’s only seven people, but we’re all so motivated – we’re doing the same job here that European teams with 10-times the number of people are achieving. And we’re doing it on a considerably smaller budget we’re doing things properly and very efficiently, but we don’t have an open cheque book.”
The car’s next development will be to – quite literally – make some noise with the Kona EV.
“We’re definitely not going with a siren or alarm or anything like that,” said Paddon. “One of the great things with the team here is that we have some young engineers, not necessarily rooted in motorsport, who are taking such an innovative approach.
“They have some really cool solutions and ideas to artificially generate some noise from the car. We’re looking to have this sorted next week. Things are moving really quickly with the launch then the Jacks Ridge event coming, but the roll out gave us a real boost.
“The first time the car turned a wheel, literally straight out of the garage and onto the track and it was perfect.”