Hayden Paddon's Hyundai Kona EV, the world's first electric rally car designed and built by the former Southern Cantabria team in Cromwell.


Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai Kona EV, the world’s first electric rally car designed and built by the former Southern Cantabria team in Cromwell.

Rally star Hayden Paddon will achieve a world premiere when he lines up at the Waimate 50 Festival of Motorsport during Labor Weekend.

Paddon will drive an electric rally car, the first time this has happened in a gravel competition according to his team.

The car, a Hyundai Kona EV, was built by Paddon’s team at Cromwell, in a project that spanned almost two years.

Being born and raised in the south of Canterbury, where Paddon Rallysport was formed, Paddon said he believed it was appropriate to launch his latest innovation in the area where it started for him.

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“The idea was born as a way to drive the sport forward in innovation, while also using the talents of New Zealand engineers and technicians,” said Paddon.

“Our small team of seven, together with our partnership with Hyundai New Zealand and our battery supplier Stard Industries in Austria, succeeded in achieving a world first with Cromwell. Something I’ll always be proud of.

Work had increased over the past two months, Paddon said with four separate testing sessions.

“The development process is taking longer than expected; the car setup reacts completely differently to any combustion car we’ve come across before.

“This is good because it allows us to design new solutions to get the most out of an electric car.”

Paddon said the “electric platform” was fast.

“The instantaneous power and low center of gravity proved to be incredible throughout our development tests. We can’t wait to present it to Waimate.

Hayden Paddon says the Hyundai Kona EV's instantaneous power and low center of gravity have been “amazing”.


Hayden Paddon says the Hyundai Kona EV’s instantaneous power and low center of gravity have been “amazing”.

Engineer and project manager Matt Barham said that in designing and building the car, they were working with totally new technology.

“We had to understand how it all worked. It is only in the last few months that we have made real progress. We used to try a lot to find the right path. And now the growth is exponential.

Barham said he performed tests at Highlands Motorsport Park where they were based.

“But you can’t expect what works on the tarmac to work on the gravel. So we used private roads and have great support from the Otago Central Council to have access to the roads for testing. “

The only problem, according to Cromwell Barham, was access to supplies.

“Even things that others can access from a local soft engineering store, we have to be organized and pre-order from Auckland to be shipped.”

Barham got involved in the project after receiving a phone call from Paddon, whom he had never met or spoken to before.

“He told me he was going to build an electric rally car and asked me if I would like to be involved as a project manager. And you can’t say no to that, so I jumped on it right away.

The annual Waimate 50, which did not take place in 2020 due to Covid-19, had been a street race, but organizers took a different route in 2021, again due to pandemic concerns, opting for a trip to the hills behind the city.

Taking place over three days, the event includes two hill climbs: an asphalt hill climb on Friday and a gravel hill climb the following two days on a course winding the road to Waimate Monument, the Whitehorse monument. .

Event organizer Rob Aikman said he was delighted Paddon was starting up in his electric rally car.

“It’s pretty important not only here in the history of our event, but for a competition with an EV it’s a world first.”

The event will run under Covid-19 level 2 rules with 50 cars and drivers to line up.

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