The Kia Soul EV has made its world debut at the Chicago Motor Show. The brand’s first fully electric vehicle will initially go on sale in North America in the third quarter of 2014, with Kia looking to offer the vehicle in other markets in the near future.
The Soul EV retains the familiar boxy shape of the standard model but is marked out by its bespoke front grille – which houses the charging points – and aero-optimised 16-inch alloy wheels. Other changes over the standard model include projector headlights as well as LED daytime running lights and taillights.
Power comes from a 108bhp electric motor and lithium ion batteries, which are located beneath the floor but don’t intrude on passenger space. The top speed has been electronically limited to 90mph. A single charge can vary anywhere from 24 hours from a standard household socket, to 33 minutes from a 50kW fast charging point. Once fully charged, Kia claims the Soul EV can cover a distance of up to 100 miles.
It also features an advanced liquid-cooled AC permanent magnet motor, which uses multi-layer magnets to help improve efficiency and reduce the whine that’s commonly experienced with other EVs. Kia’s third-generation regenerative braking system also features, helping further improving efficiency.
A radical new interior also features on the Soul EV, with Kia opting for bio-based plastics derived from cellulose and sugar cane. The material can be found on the door panels, headliner, seat trim and carpets. Standard kit includes sat nav, a rear view camera, Bluetooth, electric windows, cruise control and eco-friendly cloth upholstery. An optional leather-seating package is available.
California, Oregon, New York and New Jersey will be the first states in North America where the Soul EV will be offered due their EV infrastructure and larger market share. Official pricing will be announce closer to the cars launch but we can expect a price tag in the region of £18,000 if and when it arrives on UK shores.