Another gasoline-powered Kona hits market as sales plunge

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Another gasoline-powered Kona hits market as sales plunge

Hyundai Motor's Kona SUV [HYUNDAI MOTOR]

Hyundai Motor's Kona SUV [HYUNDAI MOTOR]

 
Hyundai Motor is now selling a 2-liter gasoline engine version of its Kona SUV in Korea as the compact SUV's sales flag and the electric model is challenged by battery and brake problems.  
 
The new model, which was already being sold in the United States, is rated at 149 horsepower maximum and has a fuel efficiency of 13.6 kilometers per liter (32 miles per gallon). Its price starts at 19.6 million won ($17,800), 700,000 won less than the 1.6 gasoline turbo version.  
 
Kona was introduced by the car maker in 2017, with an electric model being made available the following year.
 
In October 2020, the company recalled almost 25,000 Kona Electrics after some 14 of the vehicles caught fire. The batteries in the cars are manufactured by LG Chem, though the power management system could also have caused the fires.  
 
Last month, Hyundai Motor recalled 32,000 units of Kona Electric due to problems with the braking system.
 
Kona sales have been plummeting despite a strong domestic market.
 
A total of 31,902 Konas were sold in Korea last year, down from 42,649 in the previous year. In 2020, 8,066 electric Konas were sold in the country, down from 13,000 the previous year.
 
Overall, Hyundai Motor sales in Korea rose 6.2 percent by unit volume in 2020.
 
The automaker said that it is not suspending sales of the electric Kona in Korea, though it added that it is undecided on the roll out schedule for the electric version given the number of similar vehicles scheduled to hit the market.
 
A Reuters story in December citing YTN said Hyundai Motor was considering an end to Kona electric sales in Korea.
 
BY JIN EUN-SOO   [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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