Kia will be launching the EV Soul this summer — most likely in California and Oregon first, then in some eastern states such as New Jersey, New York, and Maryland. Here are some quick facts about the coming electric vehicle:
- air-cooled 27-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
- 81-kilowatt (109-horsepower) liquid-cooled electric motor
- top speed — 90 mph
- 0-60 MPH in 11 seconds
- range is estimated to be 200 kilometers (~120 miles) per charge (in Europe — the US rating will likely be 80–100 miles)
- price = $30,000-$35,000 before federal and/or state rebates
- bio-based organic compounds in about 10% of its interior materials
Kia has done a smart thing by creating the Soul EV, a crossover vehicle with urban appeal. The gas-powered version has been successful with the niche it was targeted towards. With its distinctive styling, frontrunner crossover status, and affordable price, Kia positioned the Soul to be a hit with young urban adults.
The Soul was introduced in 2009 and sales have increased over time. In 2012-2013, it was the #2 seller for Kia. The new Soul EV should do well because it is the same vehicle that is already popular, just with an electric motor and a battery pack. In other words, it already has brand awareness in the top 20 markets in the United States, but also has sold successfully internationally.
EVs sometimes are new, standalone vehicles the public hasn’t heard about it, so creating some awareness with consumers can be very challenging. Doing so with an already popular model can help.
The name Soul is also appealing to young people who have identified with being real and expressive, so adding an electric, environmentally aware version only seems to cement that identification process. Soul might also have an association with free-spiritedness, music and soon, being green.
Launching the vehicle in the summer on the West Coast is also smart, because an eco-friendly vehicle is exactly what will be welcome during the period when so many people are enjoying the outdoors and taking trips to natural parks for camping and recreation.
Overall, the Tesla Model S is much more impressive with its larger range, better acceleration, and very high safety rating, but that’s not really the upscale market the Soul EV will competing in. The much greater affordability and styling of the EV Soul will allow a lot more people to go electric while getting a good vehicle and plenty of range. The Soul EV could really compete with the slightly cheaper but lower-range Nissan LEAF, which is currently the top-selling car in the US. If Kia is willing to manufacture enough of these, at $30,000 to $35,000 before EV incentives, and the specs listed above, the Soul EV might be a real contender at the top of the EV sales charts.