Kia Motors has confirmed that a new all-electric version of the Kia Soul is scheduled to go on sale in export markets during the second half of 2014. The ‘Kia Soul EV' will be Kia's first electrically-driven, zero-emissions family car marketed outside Korea.
"The new Soul EV will be at the forefront of Kia's new ‘Clean Mobility' program to provide environmentally-friendly transport to our customers around the world when it goes on sale globally next year," commented Thomas Oh, Executive Vice President and COO, Kia Motors Corporation.
"Although it is Kia's first globally-sold all-electric vehicle, the Soul EV is our second-generation battery electric vehicle and significantly benefits from our in-depth experience gained from development of the Ray EV and proven daily operations of the Ray EV fleet for the past three years."
Paul Philpott, President and Chief Executive of Kia Motors (UK) Limited said: "Whilst this sector of the UK new car market still remains very small, we welcome Kia's global commitment to developing this technology.
"It is impossible to confirm any details about how we might offer this vehicle to UK motorists as yet - but we will seek to bring Soul EV to the UK. We cannot confirm timings or likely pricing as yet," he added.
Embodying the cheerful design language of the recently-launched second-generation Kia Soul, the Soul EV is a uniquely designed battery electric vehicle, practical for everyday use. It will be perfectly suited for city commuters thanks to its class-leading range. Equipped with a high-capacity 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, the Soul EV will be able to drive more than 200 km on a single charge.
The front-wheel drive Soul EV prototype test cars are built on modified versions of the 2014 Kia Soul and are powered by an 81.4 kW electric motor, producing a generous 285 Nm of torque. The motor delivers its power to the front wheels through a single speed constant ratio gear reduction unit.
Thanks to instantly available torque, the electric drivetrain will ensure that the Soul EV is a fun-to-drive vehicle with rapid acceleration (standstill to 100 kph is predicted to take less than 12 seconds) and a top speed in the region of 145 kph. To maximise the efficiency and potential range of the Soul EV, regenerative braking captures and recycles into the battery the energy generated while the car is coasting and braking.
Charging is accomplished by plugging the Soul EV into any standard household electricity supply. Recharging times are up to five hours for a fully depleted battery using a standard 240v or 230v household outlet, or 25 minutes on ‘fast' charge with 100 kW output.
The absence of engine noise, combined with special sound-proofing materials, will make the production Kia Soul EV extremely quiet inside, contributing to the exceptional refinement levels similar to those of premium vehicles. Because of its nearly silent operation, for the benefit of pedestrian safety, the Soul EV will be equipped with a VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System) that emits an audio alert at speeds below 20 kph and whenever the car is reversing.
A fleet of disguised prototypes of the new Soul EV is currently undertaking an intensive test program at Kia's world-class Namyang R&D facility in Korea, as well as in Europe and North America, before manufacturing of customer cars begins in 2014.
The Kia Soul EV is based on the new 2014 Kia Soul which incorporates several significant improvements over the popular first-generation Soul. Changes included the adoption of an all-new platform (based on the latest Kia cee'd) with a longer (2570 mm) wheelbase, a 29% stiffer bodyshell and upgraded suspension, delivering greatly improved ride, handling and refinement, plus more mature and composed on-road behaviour.
Like the 2014 Kia Soul, the Soul EV will have head-turning styling and exterior features that project a cutting-edge image and discreetly highlight its electric powertrain. The smooth new-look is inspired by the 2012 Kia Track'ster concept and retains the iconic square-shouldered broad stance of the original Soul model.
Soul EV will offer buyers added sparkle with projection type headlamps, LED positioning lamps, LED rear combination lamps, plus aerodynamically shaped 16" inch alloy wheels.
Inside, Soul EV will be fitted with a unique Supervision instrument cluster and centre stack with an eight-inch display screen. Appropriately for an eco-friendly vehicle, interior components and trim will use an increased range of recycled materials including Bio Plastic, Bio Foam, Bio Fabric and Bio PET Felt, together with low volatile organic compounds and newly developed antibacterial materials and paint.
Kia launched domestic sales of the Ray EV in Korea in late 2011 and has gained real-world experience of daily operations by supplying a fleet of Ray EVs to government departments and public offices.