At the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, Kia introduced its new 2015 Soul EV, an electric version of the popular Soul multi-purpose vehicle. With a claimed 90 miles of range and a 102 MPGe combined EPA efficiency rating, the new Soul EV goes on sale in the summer of 2014 and will be offered in a limited number of states on the east and west coasts.
Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, Kia Motors America, said: "The Soul EV retains the fun and funky style as well as the packaging efficiency and utility that have made the gasoline-powered Soul such a huge hit with consumers. And to that winning combination it adds useable real-world range and multiple charging options, making it the perfect EV for everyone."
To recharge the Soul EV's Lithium-ion polymer battery, which is housed under the vehicle's floor, owners slide open the panels on the front of the car, where the grille insert is normally located. The Soul EV is compatible with 120-volt household-style outlets, 240-volt EV chargers, and the 480-volt Chademo DC fast-chargers commonly offered by municipalities. Depending on the charging source, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 24 hours to completely recharge a Soul EV, according to Kia.
With 109 horsepower and 209 lb.-ft. of torque motivating 3,247 lbs. of mass, the Soul EV isn't a quick car. However, thanks to a multi-layer magnet design the electric motor is quieter than other electric vehicles, Kia says. The automaker also installs a Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS) that works at speeds below 12 mph to make sure pedestrians and cyclists are aware of the Soul EV's presence.
Styling isn't dramatically different from a standard gasoline-powered Soul. Offered in one of three 2-tone paint combinations, and equipped with aerodynamic 16-inch aluminum wheels with Super Ultra Low Rolling Resistance tires, the Soul retains what Hedrick characterizes as its "funky style."
The interior is similar to a standard Soul, too, but not quite as roomy. The Soul EV loses some rear legroom and some cargo room to make space for the battery and other components. EV buyers will like that the interior employs so much bio-friendly material in its construction that the Soul EV is the first car to earn an automotive environmental validation from Underwriters Laboratory, an independent, not-for-profit product rating company. From the interior plastic and paint on some of the trim pieces to the material used for the carpeting, headliner, and door panels, the Soul EV is made of organic ingredients.
To make sure Soul EV owners can take full advantage of the electrified drivetrain, the car includes a standard navigation system and Kia's UVO eServices technology with special UVO EV Services. This allows owners to remotely check the vehicle's status using a smartphone app, program charging times, activate the climate control system prior to driving, and to find nearby charging stations.
For complete details about the new 2015 Kia Soul EV, please read the full preview for this model.