PRG and Hayden Paddon reveals spectacular Hyundai EV rally car
Photo credit: Graeme Murray Photography

PRG and Hayden Paddon reveals spectacular Hyundai EV rally car

One of the world’s first EV rally cars, based on the Hyundai Kona, has been revealed by Paddon Rallysport (PRG) at Hyundai Motors New Zealand in Auckland.

Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon led the project to develop the 400+ kW electric-powered rally car, a project sparked by an idea early in 2018 and officially commenced in March 2019.

Following 18 months of intensive work at their Cromwell facility, Paddon and his six-strong team of engineers and designers are delighted to reveal the completed, fully functional Hyundai Kona EV rally car to the world.

The project marks a significant milestone in New Zealand automotive and motorsport history, with 80 per cent of the car designed in-house in terms of chassis design, engineering, aerodynamics, suspension, steering, cooling and electrics. Austrian company Stohl Advanced Research and Development (STARD) contributed to the project as Paddon Rallysport’s technical partner, providing guidance and advice.

EV technology currently powers a range of competitive motorsport vehicles, primarily in disciplines which are based at one location, such as a race or rallycross track, and usually run over a relatively short period of time. Rallying delivers very different and demanding challenges such as day-long events across multiple timed rally stages, competing in remote locations, and limited time for vehicle servicing during competition.

The design concept for the Paddon Rallysport EV needed to combine performance, range and reliability into one package. The EV rally car needed to be fast and spectacular, as well as capable of competing in a traditional rally format against normal internal combustion engine (ICE) competition. From the outset, it was vital that the EV rally car produced aloud and distinctive sound for the safety – and enjoyment – of marshals, media and spectators out viewing the rally action.

Paddon and his multi-championship winning rally team focused on creating a car with considerable wow factor which will take this New Zealand-created technology to the world.

“The car is faster on paper than an ICE car, has better weight distribution and is more reliable as there are fewer moving parts and the potential with the technology, electronics and design of the car is endless” says Paddon. “It’s simply a new era of rallying that has new limits.

“The EV package is capable of over 800 kW, but we have focused on building this car to have comparable power to a current ICE rally car and aim for it to be winning rallies against normal ICE competition from 2022. A lot of work needs to happen between now and then, and we are confident that EV technology is going to work in a normal rally environment.”

Paddon Rallysport has worked, and continues to work, closely with local motorsport bodies to make EV technology viable in a rally environment. There are numerous considerations such as how EV cars are serviced between rally stages, regulations on changing battery packs, charging systems, vehicle weight and chassis structure, and the safety of the driver and co-driver and rally marshals during competition and in the event of a crash.

“Finding the way to move forward with EV technology is something we identify as being very important for the future of our sport, not only in New Zealand but globally. If the sport doesn’t respond, it will be left behind commercially and technologically compared to other motorsports.”

The Paddon Rallysport EV rally car features a modernised aero package reminiscent of current World Rally Championship (WRC) cars. When in rally spec, it weighs in at around 1,400kg and has the same suspension travel as a WRC car.

Having designed and built a new concept of rally car from scratch, the team is ready for an extensive eight month development programme to learn and extract the most from the car. Paddon believes New Zealand offers the perfect test bed for his team to refine the EV technology in a normal, competitive environment – an environment that Paddon obviously knows well.

“The next phase of the project is focused on performance and reliability, before we build up to a full length rally in the second half of 2021,” Paddon says. “Long term, we see this as a platform from which we will further develop the cars and our team to take on the world.”

The Paddon Rallysport team comprises Paddon, Matt Barham (project manager and electrical engineer), Mike Pittams (lead technician), Rory Callaway (mechanical engineer), Ben Fretwell (technician), Ari Pettigrew (technician) and Matt Bowater (plant manager).

Paddon adds: “I’m incredibly proud of our team who have put their heart and soul into this car. There is a little bit of all of us in it and it wouldn’t be possible without the amazing team we have. So, a massive thank you from the bottom of my heart for them to believe in me and trust me to make our vision a reality. Now the work continues as we take this project to the next step as a rally winner.”

Paddon Rallysport has created and maintained several long-term commercial partnerships over the years with several key partners helping make sure the EV project could continue through the challenges of COVID-19 this year.

“We are proud to announce several key partnerships which are helping make this project possible,” Paddon says.

“We’ve been working with Hyundai New Zealand for six years now, a Kiwi-owned company run by an incredible team of people. Their belief in us to deliver this project and the opportunity to continue representing one of the leading new vehicle brands is something that makes us both proud and humble. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Hyundai New Zealand General Manager Andy Sinclair says: “This project complements our commitment to being at the forefront of innovation and championing the EV industry here in New Zealand. It’s been an exciting journey over the last 18 months for our team to be involved in, and to watch the Hyundai Kona EV rally car come to life

“The first phase is finally complete, and we will enjoy this moment and watching the car make its competitive debut in coming months. We equally look forward to what’s still to come with this project.”

Paddon adds: “We are also proud to welcome New Zealand’s largest renewable energy generator Meridian Energy to our EV rally car programme along with battery charger leaders YHI Energy.

“We have also partnered up with EECA to help promote GENLESS, a campaign to showcase how one simple act or change can help reduce each person’s carbon footprint for the future. Helping us put the power to the ground are Pirelli tyres, who we have been working with since 2009, and Extreme Racing Shox.”

The Paddon Rallysport Hyundai Kona EV rally car is another example of Kiwi ingenuity and how inventive and creative people are changing their thinking about electric-powered vehicles. More information about the Hyundai EV rally car is available on the dedicated website, www.paddonrallysport.co.nz.

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