Former World Rally Championship star Hayden Paddon has revealed a vicious electric racing machine that takes its basis from a Hyundai's Kona small SUV, but has the firepower to blow infamously powerful Group B rally cars out of the water.
While the wild Group B rally racers of the 1980s represented a new era in outlandish and, at times, uncontrollable petrol power, Paddon's latest pet project is another step toward electric dominance in the forest.
Based on the Kona small SUV, this beast is unlike anything you will see at the supermarket carpark, with max outputs in the region of 800kW – making it one of the most powerful rally cars outside of Pikes Peak.
When competing on a rally stage, the Kona EV will be on par with a fully-fledged WRC car in terms of power outputs.
In race trim, the Kona EV rally car tips the scales at 1400kg, but like most electric vehicles, a lot of that weight is extremely low in the vehicle, giving it a superior centre of gravity - central to successful rally competition.
Shown to the world in tarmac specification, the Kona wears Pirelli P-Zero slick rubber on all four corners, but is clearly comfortable on gravel stages judging from the dramatic reveal footage.
“More sideways than the ‘70s, more power than the ‘80s,” claims Paddon in the video.
What makes Paddon’s Kona different to other EV rally projects is his desire for the car to compete in full-length rally competitions.
The battery, inverter, and motors are supplied by Stohl Advanced Research and Development (STARD), the same Austrian company that has been developing electric rallycross cars. Finer details on the size of the battery pack, and number of motors, has not been revealed.
Paddon was able to complete the project with the support of Hyundai Australia.
According to the former WRC winner, the Kona EV rally car project took two and a half years to complete, with some ten thousand-man hours.
The chassis, design, engineering, aerodynamics, suspension, steering, cooling, and electrics were all completed in New Zealand by Paddon’s team.
While there was an element of factory backing to the project, the Kona EV rally car was built by a squad of just seven people – no truckload of engineers here.
Dubbed Padden Rallysport, the team is small but dedicated, and the eponymous driver who leads the squad said he wants it to compete internationally by the end of the decade.
“This is much more than just another car. It illustrates a statement for both our team and the state of rallying,” Hayden Paddon said at the reveal of the car.
Oh, and don’t think Paddon is done simply revealing the wild Kona. A intense eight-month testing regime is set to begin, followed by potential competitions both in New Zealand and internationally from the second half of 2021 onwards.
“This is just the start,” Paddon added.
The entire focus of the project was to “begin developing solutions to make [an] EV work in a real-world rally environment.”
Hyundai New Zealand GM, Andy Sinclair, revealed that the follow-up to the EV Kona rally project will be a hydrogen-powered off-road racer.
What’s the EV Kona rally car like to drive? Well according to Paddon it has the chops to be a serious competitor on any rally stage.
“It will go fast, and I love to go fast,” he laughed.