KIA SOUL ELECTRIC
Kia’s second-ever consumer electric vehicle has entered production this week, ahead of its Korean market debut.
The Soul EV made its global debut at February’s Chicago Auto Show, and an American launch is planned for late 2014.
Don’t expect to see the Soul EV in Australia alongside its petrol sibling however, with Kia focusing on left-hand-drive markets for the time being.
“The Soul EV is our second-generation battery electric vehicle and benefits significantly from our in-depth experience gained from development of the Ray EV and proven daily operations of the Ray EV fleet in Korea for the past three years,” Kia COO Thomas Oh said.
The Soul EV’s debut in the US could represent a compelling option for regular consumers: while many electric vehicles feature quirky futuristic styling, the electric Soul is largely identical to the regular model.
Search for unique design features on the Soul EV and you’ll find just a few: a larger body-coloured grille to house charging points, special aerodynamic wheels and, as an option, a new ‘Caribbean Blue’ paint job.
Power in the Soul EV is provided by a 81kW/284Nm electric motor, drawing energy from a 27kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack beneath the hatchback’s floor.
Motivation is sent to the front wheels through a single-speed constant-ratio gear reduction system, and Kia claims a 0-100km/h time of just under 12 seconds.
The Soul EV boasts a driving range of around 120 to 160 kilometres from one charge - about par with most electric vehicles - and the battery can be fully charged in five to 24 hours depending on the type of charger used.
An 80 percent charge can also be achieved with a special 50kW charging unit. Battery regeneration also occurs while the car is braking or coasting.
Due to the lack of engine noise, the Soul EV will be equipped with a Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS) for pedestrian safety that emits an audio alert at speeds below 12mph (20km/h) and whenever the car is in reverse.
The Soul EV will also feature a unique ‘Supervision’ instrument cluster along with an eight-inch display screen and aerodynamically shaped 16-inch alloy wheels.
Will we see the Soul EV in Australia? Unlikely, as production is expected to cater to left-hand-drive markets only at this stage.
The ‘regular’ all-new Soul is now available in Australia and can be had with a 2.0 litre petrol engine and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.