Rumor: 2017 Kia Soul EV To Get a Facelift, Range Boost To Keep It Competitive Against 2016 LEAF, 2017 e-Golf, 2016 i3

Ever since mass-market electric cars appeared on the roads for the first time in late 2010, anyone looking to buy an electric car with a list price of less than $40,000 has had to be content with a real-world range per charge of just under 100 miles. From the early Nissan LEAF through to the Volkswagen e-Golf, Ford Focus EV and BMW i3, each car has offered customers an achievable range somewhere between 80 and 95 miles, with EPA rated ranges to match.

But last year, armed with a higher-capacity next-generation battery pack, Nissan edged the range of its 2016 Nissan LEAF over the magic 100-mile mark for the first time, offering customers of the high end Nissan LEAF SV and Nissan LEAF SL (Nissan Acenta and Tekna in Europe) the chance to pick a 30 kilowatt-hour battery pack offering an EPA-approved 107 miles of range per charge.

The 2016 Kia Soul EV manages 93 miles on the EPA test cycle.

The 2016 Kia Soul EV manages 93 miles on the EPA test cycle.

Since the announcement of the longer-range 2016 Nissan LEAF, we’ve seen a number of other automakers jump on the bandwagon, promising increased-capacity battery packs that bring their own electric cars in line with the LEAF in terms of range. So far, Ford, BMW and Volkswagen have all hinted that such packs are on the way for either 2016 or 2017 model-year cars.

Now we can add South Korean automaker Kia to that list, with the rumor from UK motoring site Autocar that a larger-capacity battery pack is on the way for the 2017 Kia Soul EV.

British magazine Autocar suggests that range will increase with the mildly-refreshed 2017 model-year car.

British magazine Autocar suggests that range will increase with the mildly-refreshed 2017 model-year car.

The all-electric five-seat compact utility vehicle, which originally went on sale in the U.S. as little more than a limited-production compliance car in markets like California, the Pacific Northwest and Northeastern states in order to comply with zero emission vehicle mandates, became an instant hit with customers due to its practical cabin layout, high seating position, CHAdeMo DC quick charge capability and 93 miles of EPA-approved range.

That range, one of the larger ranges of any mid-priced electric car on sale, was down to a lithium-ion battery pack rated at 27 kilowatt-hours rather than the 24 kilowatt-hours (give or take a few hundred watt-hours) offered on cars like the 2011-2015 Nissan LEAF, Volkswagen e-Golf and Ford Focus EV. Despite being a limited-availability compliance car, that extra range made it a success in areas where it was sold — and encouraged Kia to expand availability elsewhere.

Which is why we’re pleased to hear that a longer-range battery pack is likely on the way for the 2017 model year car, which we assume will be in dealers some time in the next six months or so. Along with that extra range, Autocar says the Kia Soul EV — along with its gasoline-powered sibling the Kia Soul — will be getting a mild mid-cycle update in terms of features and body styling. In addition to new headlights and taillights, the spyshots suggest a few tweaks to the bonnet, as well as what Autocar’s spy photographer says is a heavily disguised — and thus likely significantly different — interior.

At the moment, the rumor about a longer-range pack on the Kia Soul EV is just that — a rumor. But given the fact Kia uses LG Chem as its battery partner and LG Chem has been working hard on a longer-range battery pack for use in longer-range cars like the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, we’re guessing it’s a fairly good bet that some form of range extension is on its way.

How far will the rumored longer-range Kia Soul EV be able to travel over the existing model year car? That’s something we’re not sure of yet, but we think a range of at least 115 miles per charge should be possible if the Kia Soul EV’s battery pack is given a similar proportional capacity upgrade to the 2016 Nissan LEAF and 2017 Ford Focus EV. 

Would you consider a longer-range Kia Soul EV? And how much would you pay for it if it were made?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Joseph Dubeau

    “But given the fact Kia uses LG Chem as its battery partner” I think SK Innovation makes the battery cells.

    • Hugo Rhodano

      Yes, indeed. In the latest model battery pack from SK Innovation is used. But as Nikki wrote, Kia/Hyundai ist also customer from LG Chem. I think the next Soul EV will have done same improvement like the new i3 from BMW:140 miles maybe…

  • It would be nice if they offered the car for sale in more states.

    In Tennessee we have a healthy CHAdeMo network. I believe it would do well here. Grrrrr..

  • MEroller

    You would not believe the trials and tribulations we have gone through up till while trying to get a Kia Soul EV test drive in the Stuttgart region. When I first checked over half a year ago the next Kia Dealer with the right to sell cars that had a Soul EV was in Ulm, around 1 hours drive east over the Swabian mountains – too far and through horrendous traffic just for a test drive. In our vicinity Kia has exactly one sales dealer, in the center of Stuttgart. The only place you can buy Kia automobiles in one of the automotive capitals of Germany… All others are only allowed to service Kias. So I contacted this sales person half a year ago, as the sales of Soul EV were purportedly started in Germany at the beginning of 2015 with multiple test reports from automotive journalists of all kinds. The Kia sales guy however said that Kia was only ramping up Soul EV sales in Germany, and that phase would be completed by the end of 2015.

    Meanwhile reports in electrically oriented news outlets suggested that Kia Germany was actively abusing almost their whole contingent of Soul EVs by registering them for one day and then exporting them to Norway as “used” cars, because there was probably a lack of sufficient Soul EV numbers destined for Norway from South Korea…

    So I called the sole Kia sales rep again 3 weeks ago, but they had still not been allocated a Soul EV, and one day later he had still not been able to secure one for them. When i started the conversation by jokingly asking if Kia was still sending all German Soul EVs to Norway he just knowingly laughed…

    Meanwhile the next Kia Sales point with a Soul EV has moved a little closer – it is in Pforzheim, approx. 40 to 50 minutes of horrendous traffic west of here. Still too far for convenience.

    At the last gathering of our local EV-chapter called electrify-bw on Tuesday evening this week I was at least finally able to check out a real-life Soul-EV, the guy came from Freiburg, some 200km southeast of here! No problem with CHAdeMo charging on the way. He was on his way to Ulm on business, so he decided to stop by at the meet-up, also to recharge 🙂 The only real down-side I could see during my inspection was the rather minuscule trunk. Though it could be massively expanded downwards by taking out an extremely deep Styrofoam tray under the normal trunk floor and putting a fitting piece of plywood down there.

    But still no test drive 🙁

    • AudioV

      Did you get to test drive it yet, or moved onto something else?

      The trunk can be made siginficantly bigger (deeper downwards) by a simple mod btw :o)

      I’m in Norway and have been testen the Soul and other EVs the past weeks. The Soul is a clear favourite, however now that the i3 (far too small a car) has it’s new battery pack confirmed, I’m assuming the upgrade from Kia is not too far away so I’m tempted to wait. Just hope the wait won’t be as long as when the Soul first got here.

      • MEroller

        Well, I guess thanks to your fellow Normans and their immense Interest in the Soul EV I have still not managed to secure a test drive in my vicinity 😉 But I did look at the trunk of one, and the owner showed me the cavernous trunk mod too.

        I have in a way moved on now, but the wait will still be a long one: I reckon with 2020 to 2021 – Tesla Model 3 at somewhere around the 250 000th reservation…

        • AudioV

          Well then congrats on reserving a Model 3, hopefully the wait won’t be too long as Tesla is said to up their annual production from their current limited production of 50 000/year to full in 2017 with half a million cars per year :o)

  • vdiv

    Kia Bulgaria was the first to install a DCFC/CHAdeMO station in the country and invite all EV owners to come for a charge, a cup of coffee, and to check out the Soul EV: There is also a Soul EV taxicab trialing service in Sofia.

    Hats off to Kia for pushing auto electrification in places that really needed it! And hats off to Martin who runs the great site among others and spreads the word on EVs in Bulgaria 🙂

  • Chris O

    Thanks to Bolt the new benchmark is 200 miles. To sell a 115 mile Soul price would really have to reflect that range difference. I really think that cars that offer sub 200 miles of range are basically obsolete come 2017 as 200 miles really is needed to make a car practical. That and proper quick charge support that is, something that GM unfortunately isn’t offering for its Bolt. Even Bolt will be obsolete once 150KW chargers are rolled out to support the new wave of 200 mile EVs as the car won’t take more than 50KW of charging output so even quick charging will take a lot more time than it should.

    • vdiv

      They are not obsolete if they continue to meet the needs of those that drive them. And as you point out they are certainly rather usable if they have a DCFC network while the Bolt EV really doesn’t.

      • Chris O

        “Obsolete” doesn’t mean useless of course. Just no longer having the sort of specs people have come to expect from a product. The only EVs that are supported by a truly systematically rolled out charging network at this point are Teslas.

  • Jeff Songster

    Do it now Kia… beat them all to 200 miles at 35k….

  • James

    Awesome car, loving mine but four improvements that they need to do with the Soul EV are 1) set the roof ribbing back so that it is possible to install an after-market sunroof and 2) Change the map display so that the streets are solid color (like the Leaf) and not as an outline. The daytime maps display is pretty much useless as there is insufficient contrast between the streets and the background. Also needs 3) charging door opener via the key fob and 4) ability to set the max charge at 80% when not using the timer schedule.

  • Nicole Kroplewski

    Let see, the newcomer Chevrolet Bolt Ev will have a “200 Miles estimated range”
    First : If Kia intend to keep the lead, they will simply have to match it .
    Second: if Kia is serious , they will have to push the U.K dealership to make them to also propose
    To the Customer : the Sunshead or Sunroof which is propose all over the europe Except the U.k
    Also propose the Cooling seat again not available in the U.k model.
    Again propose the Leather seat Not available in the U.K but propose in Europe

    Why Oh mighty Why are you Cutting the U.K short of Goddies !

  • Jeff Laurence

    If the price stays competitive, the bolt looks like a great buy. If not, we’ll have to see what the comparison in milage turns out to be. The KIA has outstanding quality so that needs to be factored in. 120 miles would suit my needs.

  • I have to say I am very happy with my Soul EV with sun and fun package. I have a 15 leaf SL also. The Kia charges much faster, and the range is enough for reginal driving in the AV network area in Oregon and WA states.

  • Oh, and it goes further the 93 miles even at 55 to 60, closer to 100 miles of range .