Dunedin Mayor takes a ride of a lifetime

Dunedin’s non-driving, hitch-hiking mayor Aaron Hawkins thumbed down his most adrenaline-pumping ride yet, jumping into Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon’s new electric powered rally car during the super stage of the Otago Rally.


Touted as the future of motorsport, Paddon’s world-leading technology was on display at this weekend’s Drivesouth Otago Rally, the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, with Paddon demonstrating it at the Tarmac Super Stage after completing the first day in his Hyundai i20 AP4.

While not yet competition-ready, the Hyundai Kona EV, developed in-house at Paddon’s Cromwell facility, has already attracted massive interest from the global motorsport community. As one of only a handful of people to experience a ride in the cutting edge EV, Mayor Hawkins says the speed was “breathtaking”.

“I’m not sure my heart rate will ever settle down,” says Mayor Hawkins.

“It was a bloody fun ride, everyone should have a go. Hayden was kind to me, though I’m not sure knowing we were about to do a donut was actually better than it coming as a surprise.

“The car is incredibly fast and how fantastic that this kind of sustainable technology and thinking is being developed right here in Otago. It has to be part of the future of the sport.”

The EV project marks a significant milestone in New Zealand automotive and motorsport history, with 80 per cent of the car designed in-house in terms of chassis design, engineering, aerodynamics, suspension, steering, cooling and electrics. Austrian company Stohl Advanced Research and Development (STARD) contributed to the project as Paddon Rallysport’s technical partner, providing guidance and advice.

EV technology currently powers a range of competitive motorsport vehicles, primarily in disciplines which are based at one location, such as a race or rallycross track, and usually run over a relatively short period of time. Rallying delivers very different and demanding challenges such as day-long events across multiple timed rally stages, competing in remote locations, and limited time for vehicle servicing during competition.

This year’s Otago Rally is also making its own contribution towards greater sustainability for the sport by offsetting competitor carbon emissions and pledging it to MotorSport New Zealand’s new environment sustainability fund.

“We’re proud to support this important MotorSport New Zealand initiative and we hope to lead other events towards contributing to the scheme,” says event organiser Roger Oakley.

“We all have a role to play in creating a more environmentally sustainable New Zealand and this is an important step from the motorsport community.”