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TEST DRIVE: Kia Soul EV
Nick Palermo finds the new Kia Soul EV a fun, low-key electric car with an advertised range up to around 90+ miles.
Digital Trends 06 Oct 2014
Similarities to the gas-powered version mark both strengths and weaknesses for the 2015 Kia Soul EV, the automaker’s first electric car.
Kia is taking a careful and measured approach in the launch of its first-ever electric vehicle. Only select California dealers will sell the zero-emissions 2015 Kia Soul, and the Korean automaker expects that demand for the 2015 Kia Soul EV will easily outstrip supply.
This strategy, representatives from Kia say, will allow it to work out any potential kinks – from dealers or new EV drivers, and with a limited national EV charging infrastructure – before expanding to new markets. That’s a shame, because a first drive in the Soul EV proves promising for the fast-growing company.
Soul of Soul
While many Tesla Model S and Nissan LEAF drivers surely appreciate their vehicles’ distinctive and EV-exclusive styling, the Soul EV is largely identical in appearance to its gas-powered counterpart. Still, the model provides an excellent platform for electrification. High sills and a crossover-like shape allow the Soul EV’s lithium-ion polymer battery array to fit neatly below the floor without significantly intruding on passenger or cargo space. Plus, the Soul strikes a fresh and youthful chord even before offering an alternative-energy powertrain.
Astute observers, and perhaps conventionally powered Soul drivers, will notice a few exterior styling differences, though. Particularly noticeable is a solid, body-colored grille insert. There, a sliding door hides the Soul EV’s two charging ports.
Unique, “ECO electric” badges applied to the front fenders and rear hatch also differentiate the zero-emissions Soul. Aerodynamic, white-painted wheels, with silver pockets and shod in super-low rolling resistance tires, both contribute to efficiency and, with the Soul EV in motion, provide a distinctive and decidedly slick look.
Inside, the Soul EV includes eco-minded materials that emphasize the car’s green credentials. Bio-based materials derived from corn and sugar are used for the electric car’s headliner, A-pillars, door panels, seat trim, and carpet.
Feature-rich standard technology
Kia will offer only two trim levels: a base Soul EV and the Soul EV+. While the top-trim model offers a handful of premium upgrades – projector-beam fog lights, power-folding side mirrors, parking sensors, leather seats, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats – even the base car is nicely equipped.
All Soul EV drivers get navigation with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, a five-year subscription to Kia’s UVO connected services tailored for the EV, heated front seats and steering wheel, and a backup camera.
In addition, every Soul EV comes standard with not only a Level 1 charging port for 120- and 240-volt charging but also a CHAdeMo DC fast-charging port. DC fast chargers are capable of providing the Soul EV with an 80 percent charge in about half an hour. Some EV competitors offer a DC fast charging port only as an extra-cost option.
Cool, calm, and collected
On the road, the Soul EV is well-mannered and, like most electrics, provides a comparatively soothing driving experience. A 109-horsepower electric motor operates smoothly and quietly, whether under acceleration, while coasting or in regenerative braking mode. Because it produces a stout, 210 pound-feet of torque from zero RPM, the Soul EV is quick off the line. At higher vehicle speeds, however, acceleration is more modest.
Efficiency by the numbers
Although the 2015 Kia Soul EV boasts an EPA-rated driving range of 93 miles on a single charge, our fully-charged test vehicle displayed a range of 101 miles at the start of our drive. But after traveling only a few hundred yards, indicated range dropped to 96 miles.
Furthermore, I clocked 19.2 miles along the first leg of the loop but, according to the display, the journey cost me 26 miles of range. By the end of our drive, the Soul EV showed 34 miles of remaining range. We drove a total of 47 miles while reducing the EV’s range by 65 miles.
To be fair, the drive included a few brisk acceleration events to test the Soul EV’s responsiveness. But the vast majority of the drive consisted of typical city driving.
In terms of MPGe, or the electric equivalent to gasoline miles per gallon, the Soul EV is rated at 120 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway, and 105 MPGe combined, but kudos to those who can make practical sense of those figures.
Dollars and sense
With a base price of $33,700 (not including destination charge, and before factoring in federal or local EV tax incentives,) the 2015 Kia Soul EV is attractively priced relative to the competition.
Kia says lease customers can take home a Soul EV for $249 per month for 36 months after dropping $1,999 at signing, although the fine print says this deal is “anticipated.” Jumping up to the Soul EV+ adds $2,000 to the suggested price.
Chicken and egg
As Kia carefully dips its toe in California’s EV waters, representatives of the automaker sent mixed signals regarding its commitment to zero-emissions motoring. Widespread acceptance of EVs is a “chicken-and-egg” situation, Kia Motors of America Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Michael Sprague explained in a product presentation to the automotive press.
On one hand, Kia is betting on electrics in the long term. At the same time, Sprague suggested that the EV charging infrastructure is not yet ready for a great deal more electric cars on our roadways.
Kia’s solution is similarly paradoxical: bolster infrastructure while failing to meet anticipated demand for its first electric car. The installation of 17 DC fast chargers at EV-approved California Kia dealers will expand the availability of that convenient technology in the state by about 10 percent. But with limited Soul EV availability and most electric car drivers charging mostly at home, who will use them?
Despite the best efforts of regulators, early adopters and committed EV automakers like Tesla and Nissan, the EV marketplace remains in its infancy. Whether or not Kia becomes a key player as it inevitably matures is yet unknown. In terms of a first effort, though, the 2015 Kia Soul EV shows solid promise.
Kia Soul EV Priced Starting at $33,700US
Besides offering the Soul EV to sale in California emission states, it will also lease it for $249 a month, but that price is for 36 months, includes a $1,999 down payment.
LA Times 23 Sep 2014
Kia has announced pricing on its all-new Soul EV, the South Korean automaker’s first foray into the electric segment.
The all-electric version of Kia’s most popular vehicle will start at $33,700 when it goes on sale in October. That price doesn’t include destination or any state or federal tax credits or incentives.
Buyers in California could lop off $2,500 for the state’s electric-vehicle rebate, and up to $7,500 for a federal tax credit, depending on their income, pushing the price as low as $23,700.
Kia will also lease the Soul EV for $249 a month, but that price is for 36 months, includes a $1,999 down payment and is based on the full $7,500 federal tax credit.
The Soul EV will be available only in California at its October launch. In 2015, Kia hopes to bring the EV to other states that follow California’s lead in requiring automakers to sell zero-emission vehicles. Those states could include Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
California has long had the most eager audience for electric vehicles. Just this week, the 100,000th plug-in vehicle was sold in the Golden State, which accounts for 40% of all plug-in vehicles in the U.S.
Gov. Jerry Brown has said he wants 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road in California by 2025. The California Air Resources Board requires all automakers selling vehicles in the state to offer at least one that is zero-emissions.
This has led to a surge of pure-electric vehicles from brands such as Ford, Fiat, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Chevy and Mercedes-Benz. Critics of the requirement -- even those among the automakers themselves -- argue that it’s forcing money-losing electric vehicles onto the general public when supply far outreaches demand.
Indeed, widespread adoption of EVs has yet to catch on throughout the nation; just 1% of households in the U.S. have an electric vehicle.
Models such as the Kia Soul EV are designed to look and feel just like their gas-powered counterparts. The new Kia uses the automaker’s funky -- and popular -- front-wheel-drive Soul crossover as its foundation. The car’s boxy shape allowed Kia to tuck the air-cooled lithium-ion batteries into the floor without cutting into the Soul’s prized functionality.
Those air-cooled, 27-kWh batteries power an electric motor that makes 109 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. The batteries recharge in under five hours using a 240-volt outlet. Top speed on the Soul EV is 90 mph.
The all-electric Kia comes standard with a navigation system, rear-view camera, Bluetooth connectivity and a smartphone app that lets drivers control the charging timers and pre-heat or cool the car when it’s plugged in.
The Soul EV Plus will sell for $35,700 and adds heated and cooled leather seats, fog lights and power-folding mirrors.
Kia Soul EV Seen as Best Electric Car Value
The Soul EV is rated at 120 MPGe city and 90 MPGe highway for an average to 105 MPGe combined, according to EPA rating.
Wall Street Cheat Sheet 17 Sep 2014
Electric vehicle consumers have gotten some intriguing new options in 2014. Following the rollout of the first EVs by German luxury brands, Korea-based Kia Motors (KIMTF.PK) is about to weigh in with the 2015 Kia Soul EV. Featuring one of the top electric ranges along with a starting price near the most reasonable automobiles in the segment, the Kia Soul EV represents one of the top values currently available. Here’s a look at the new Soul EV following the release of pricing and mpg specs.
2015 Kia Soul EV specs
Kia announced its pricing for the 2015 Soul EV with updated specs in a September 11 release. The funky urban styling remains from the standard Soul while the power quotient tops out at 109 horsepower and 210 pounds-feet of torque. Electric range estimates from the EPA came in at 93 miles, making it third-best among cars now on the U.S. market. The Soul EV’s 120 MPGe city and 90 MPGe highway average out to 105 MPGe combined, which would make it the eighth-most efficient car on U.S. roads (a tie).
For the range and MPGe, Kia’s prices of $33,700 for the base Soul EV and $35,700 for the Soul EV Plus (leasing for $249 per month) are relatively reasonable. In terms of the cost per mile of range (CPMR) stat created by Mojomotors, the 2015 Kia Soul EV would weigh in at $362 for fourth place. Most of these numbers compare favorably against electric vehicles now available.
2015 Kia Soul EV rivals
Immediately, the Soul EV has to face off against the Nissan (NSANY.PK) Leaf, the leader in electric vehicle sales and the most efficient midsize car on U.S. roads at 114 MPGe combined versus the Soul EV’s 105 MPGe. Kia’s new EV has the Leaf beat by 9 miles in range though the Soul EV purchase price tops the Leaf ($28,980) by $4,720. The Leaf costs $345 per mile of range to the Soul EV’s $362. This contest is too close to call.
Matching up against the Ford (NYSE:F) Focus Electric is a different story. The Blue Oval’s all-electric car gets a respectable 76 miles of electric range, but that figure trails the Soul EV by 17 miles. Calculating the cost per mile of range, the Soul EV ($362) beats up on the Focus Electric ($463) by $101. As previously noted, they are tied at 105 MPGe combined. The Kia Soul EV presents a better overall package while undercutting the Focus Electric price ($35,170) by $1,670.
Like Kia and its German rivals, Volkswagen (VLKAY.PK) is bringing its first all-electric car to the U.S. market in 2014. The VW e-Golf arriving in November will start at $36,265 and come in near the Soul EV at 105 MPGe with a lower range than the Kia (70 to 90 miles) according to Volkswagen estimates. In terms of cost per mile of range and purchase price, the Kia Soul EV has the e-Golf’s number.
Any price quote is before the $7,500 federal rebate. There is is no accounting for the feel of being behind the wheel and the impact of real-world conditions for each driver, so test each car well. From this vantage point at least, the 2015 Kia Soul EV is a very welcome entry to the electric vehicle segment and one of its best values.
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