The traffic in Beverly Hills is thick and slow-moving as I creep my way back toward my hotel. Where all the cars around me are wasting hydrocarbons as we idle at each red light, though, my car is producing no local emissions at all. I’m at the wheel of the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric, the plug-in version of the automaker’s funky new subcompact crossover. It’s far from the only new electric car to launch this year, but the Kona should make a big splash in the non-luxury end of the battery-car segment.
The most important things for electric-car shoppers are two numbers: range and starting price. On the first question, the Kona Electric performs very well, with its 64-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion polymer battery pack delivering 258 miles per charge. Those figures make this the longest-range non-luxury EV, beating the likes of the Chevrolet Bolt EV (238 miles) and Nissan Leaf (151 miles) — and even Hyundai’s own Ioniq Electric (124 miles).