Why we chose this EV and camper?

Our car is a 2020 model Hyundai Kona with 64 kWh battery. We previously owned an older Nissan Leaf with a 24 kWh battery. The Leaf had a range of around 100 km, whereas the Kona has a range of around 450 km (in typical city driving). This is a huge difference! Most of our car charging is done at home, from a normal 240 V power outlet. Whereas the Leaf would need to be charged most days/nights after it was used, the Kona can go for many days of typical city driving before needing a charge. This allows us to make more use of our excess solar power generation at home, rather than importing from the grid overnight.

Towing

Apart from the range capability, a key aspect in deciding to buy a Kona was the ability to tow. There are limited options in Australia of EVs with towing capability. The Kona EV has a status of ‘not rated’ for towing, which is different from having a 0 kg towing capacity. I discussed this with Hyundai, and while they don’t recommend towing with the Kona EV, and won’t supply it fitted with a towbar, it can still be done without voiding the warranty, and legally.

The SA Driver’s Handbook indicates the maximum weight that can be towed by a vehicle that has no towing capacity specified (trailer must not exceed the vehicle’s unloaded mass), and also that trailers greater than 750 kg must be fitted with brakes. We had an aftermarket Kona towbar fitted by a reputable installer.

Most importantly, a couple of helpful articles about towing with the Kona include one by Tom Hunt, and another by Peter Campbell. The latter especially, provides some important insights about weight distribution in relation to towing, which we think are vital to understand.

Camper trailer

We chose a teardrop trailer because of the convenience it offered, being very quick and easy to set up. Our Little Guy teardrop camper was built in Adelaide. It has a gross trailer mass of 600 kg (before we added a few essentials). We checked the towball weight with bathroom scales, and found it under 40 kg. Even bearing in mind that the towbar itself also weighs around 20 kg, this trailer is not adding too much weight to the rear of the Kona.

The Little Guy camper, plus the weight limits, require a minimalist mindset. It is small but adequate for our needs. Indeed it is a big step up from a tent or a swag, and inside it feels like a little cubby-house. The rear galley has storage, a small 12V fridge, microwave (only works when connected to mains). There are numerous LED lights that run off a deep-cycle battery in the rear. We fitted a 270° batwing awning to the roofrack for sun and rain shelter. We’ll most likely continune to fine-tune our camper setup to solve problems and better meet our needs.

So what about the EV range?

Without a trailer, and around the city, the Kona EV should be capable of around 450 km on a single charge. For battery life, it’s preferable to keep the battery between 20 and 80% charged, so one would rarely go from full to empty! Once you travel at highway speeds, the range is reduced to about 350 km. But adding the trailer with it’s weight and wind resistance, the range is little more than 200 km on a charge. In EV speak, around the city we use about 15 kWh/100km, at highway speed roughly 20 kWh/100km, and with the Little Guy at highway speed, more like 28 kWh/100 km depending on wind etc.

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