By: Christian Okolski
Last October, it was reported that an all-electric version of the Kia Soul, the Soul EV, would enter Kia’s product line with an expected release date of Fall 2014. As fall quickly approaches, CleanTechnica has posted an interesting article on the Soul EV, detailing when it will go on sale, where it will go on sale, and what kind of range and charging it will offer. Ultimately, it looks as if Kia’s original timeline is still in place, and U.S. car buyers will soon have a new electric vehicle to choose from that will offer competitive pricing and functionality.
For those unfamiliar with the gas-powered Kia Soul, it is the Korean automaker’s quirky hatchback that has been marketed in TV commercials featuring anthropomorphized hamsters that are both hip and can drive. Over-the-top marketing aside, the Soul is Kia’s successful take on a versatile and affordable city car. In fact, it recently scored highest on the “Top 10 Urban Cars” list compiled by Cars.com, receiving praise for its build quality, comforts, and technology. Ultimately, the Soul EV fits into the electric vehicle market well, since it appeals most to customers who drive in dense, urban areas where the limited driving range of electric vehicles is not as much of a problem.
Kia has made the Soul EV’s range competitive with other electric vehicles by outfitting it with a lithium-ion battery that holds 27 kilowatt-hours of charge and delivers a range of 80 to 100 miles. Moreover, the Soul EV will be capable of DC Fast Charge, which can bring the battery’s charge from zero to 80 percent in approximately 33 minutes. While the base model of the gas-powered Soul will offer 130 horsepower to the driver, the Soul EV’s electric motor will supply 109 horsepower but with “instant torque”.
Unfortunately for electric vehicle enthusiasts, the Soul EV will first go on sale in California this fall, and shortly after it will be available in Maryland, Oregon, New Jersey, and New York. If you don’t live in one of those five states, Kia’s first electric vehicle will not be coming soon to a dealer near you. While the official price is yet to be revealed by Kia, Edmunds expects the Soul EV to cost somewhere in the high $20,000s or low $30,000s. However, it will also be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax rebate, bringing the real cost to the low or mid $20,000s.
Ultimately, the Soul EV is not likely to be a game changer in the electric vehicle market. While its price, range, charging abilities, and performance will be competitive with the best-selling vehicle in its class, the Nissan LEAF, the Soul EV will not provide a single breakthrough feature that sets it apart. However, its acclaimed refinement, style, comfort, and versatility should still make the Soul EV a very viable option to customers who are not only looking for an electric vehicle, but also a good all-around city car.