Yesterday, Kia Motors North America officially unveiled its next-generation Soul urban crossover. Larger and more sporty than the previous generation, it will go on sale shortly as a 2014 model year, with a selection of various gasoline engine choices — and one electric drivetrain — to choose from.
Unlike the gasoline variant of the Kia Soul, Kia was reticent to give too many details on the plug-in version yesterday, but in a press release confirmed that the car would be on sale some time next year “in limited U.S. markets.” Described as a “natural extension of the Soul’s urban-friendly place in the brand’s lineup of award-winning vehicles,” there’s no details on production volume or pricing, but Kia promises we’ll know more at an “upcoming U.S. auto show.”
Looking at our calendar of important auto shows, we think the logical — and only — place we’ll see the Kia Soul EV make its debut will be the Los Angeles Auto Show, which takes place from November 22 to December 1.
Like the other version of the 2014 Kia Soul, the all-new 2014 Kia Soul EV will be wider, longer and slightly shorter than the previous generation gasoline-only Kia Soul, but wear a special grille and a few other trim tweaks to differentiate it from the dinosaur-burning brethren. It will also be up to 85 percent recyclable, says Kia.
With no official specifications from Kia, performance, range and charging capabilities remain a little bit of a mystery, although a few fortuitous spy-shots of prototype Kia EVs in the wild hints at some reasonable specs. First, as documented several times in the U.S., the Kia Soul EV will come with a CHAdeMO quick charge connector, enabling it to charge from empty to full in under 30 minutes. Like the Nissan LEAF, it will also come with a J1772 (type 1) charging inlet for slower, level 2 charging.
Some forums and website are citing the Kia Soul EV as having a top speed of around 86 mph, a 12-second 0-62 mph (0-100kph) time, and a range of around 100 miles per charge. Without corroboration from Kia however, they are just a rumour at this time.
As for a price? At present we’d not like to guess, although suggest that in order to fit into the market it would need to retail somewhere between $38,000 and $45,000 in order to be truly competitive. That’s because while the Kia Soul EV will likely have more cargo-carrying capabilities than say a Nissan LEAF, it’s unlikely it will beat the $48,600 Tesla-engineered Toyota RAV4 EV in terms of range, battery capacity or performance.
Over in Europe, Kia hasn’t officially announced if or when the Kia Soul EV will be offered on this side of the pond. Given the fact that prototype cars have been spotted on the roads of Germany wearing full camouflage, we think it’s highly likely the Kia Soul EV will make to mainstream, pro-EV markets like Norway and Germany. But with EV sales in the U.K. faltering and the U.K. government threatening to end EV purchase subsidies, we think it’s highly unlikely Kia will import across the English Channel.
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