Kiwi champion rally driver Hayden Paddon has launched a world-first electric rally car, from his Cromwell workshop.

Paddon Rally Sport team standing with Hayden Paddon's electric rally car.
Photo: Graeme Murray

A couple of years ago, Hayden Paddon spotted an opportunity in rally driving, which he felt ran the risk of getting left behind as new, faster, greener technology was taking over the wider world of motorsport.

“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,” explains Paddon.

“If the sport doesn’t respond, it will be left behind commercially and technologically compared to other motorsports.”

Deciding to develop an all-electric rally car that could take on its petrol equivalents was audacious, but at the beginning of November 2020, he and his team launched the Hyundai Kona EV rally car - the world's first.

Despite the environmental advantages of an EV, Hayden admits he was motivated, first, by the exciting technical challenge and performance of an EV. “I like to go fast, and an EV is going to go faster than we’ve ever gone before.” Inspired by his experience with a low-emissions car, he’s developed roadmaps to make his team’s workshop, office and travel more energy efficient, too.

The car took Hayden’s local team of seven over 10,000 hours in 18 months to develop: around 80 per cent of the car was designed and developed in-house, making it a true Kiwi innovation.

The Kona weighs around 1,400kg and possesses the same suspension travel as a WRC car, and Hayden’s team is aiming for it to be winning championships, against petrol and diesel cars, within the next two years.

“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.”

TVNZ’s Sunday programme profiled Hayden as he took the car for its first outing.

Watch Hayden on Sunday(external link)

Gen Less is proud to partner with Hayden and share his EV rally journey.