To pulsating music, a live band and more excited journalist than you could shake a stick at Kia Motors America (KMA) hosted the global unveiling of the 2015 Soul EV on the first day of the Chicago Auto Show. The Soul EV will be Kia’s first all-electric, zero-emissions car sold in the U.S. After oohing and ahhing over it’s sporty styling and unique color it was time to get down to the nitty gritty. What was Kia offering with it’s first electric vehicle? It turns out, quite a lot.
As someone how has always been interested in Electric Vehicles I, like many other consumers, have anxiety about range. However, the Soul EV tackles that anxiety head on with a 27kWh, air-cooled, 200 watt-hour/kg battery that is expected to yield a range of approximately 80-100 miles of real-world driving on a full charge.
One of the ways it achieves that range is by maximizing efficiency. The Soul EV uses Kia’s third-generation regenerative braking system to capture up to 12 percent of the car’s kinetic energy, which is fed back into the battery while the Soul EV is coasting and braking. Out of the four different regeneration modes drivers will see the most regeneration on the “Brakes” setting with Eco-mode “On.”
It’s obvious designers were looking to make the purchase and owning experience as simple and efficient as possible. The Soul EV makes charging easy by plugging into any standard 120v outlet or a conventional 240v EV charger. Recharging times vary from 24 hours for a fully depleted battery using a standard 120-volt outlet and under about hours when plugged into a 240-volt outlet. An 80-percent charge can be achieved in as little as 33 minutes with a 50 kW-output charger. Additionally, Kia partnered with three charger providers – Bosch, Leviton and AeroVironment™. Even better, Kia retailers who sell the Soul EV will offer charging at no cost to owners.
Air conditioning is one of the largest energy drains in any electric vehicle. This is another concern Kia addressed head on with the Soul EV’s HVAC system. The Soul EV uses four key technologies to maximize HVAC efficiency:
- An Available Heat Pump (optional on Base, standard on “+”)
The heat pump and surplus heat recovered from the Soul EV’s electrical systems help heat cabin air.
- Individual Ventilation
This allows selection of “Driver Only.”It stops airflow to the passenger side and rear passenger compartment. This focuses the airflow on the driver, reducing the amount of time needed to reach a comfortable interior temperature.
- Scheduled Ventilation
Scheduled ventilation reduces EV energy use by pre-heating or cooling the passenger compartment prior to starting the car, while it is still plugged into a charger.
- Smart air induction control.
Air induction control regulates inner and outer air flow to minimize HVAC usage, regulating interior temperature by carefully managing recirculated cabin air.
Initially, the Soul EV will be offered in three color choices: Pearl White lower body with Electronic Blue roof, Caribbean Blue lower body with Clear White roof, and Bright Silver with Clear White roof. The signature two-tone paint theme is exclusive to the EV.
Other unique exterior Soul EV design features include projector headlights, LED positioning lamps, and LED tail lights. It also sports “Eco Electric” fender badging and the Soul EV rolls on distinctive 16-inch alloy wheels..
Standard Soul EV amenities include navigation, Rear Camera Display, Bluetooth® hands free operation, power windows, power driver’s seat, cruise control, 6.6kW on-board charger and an exclusive HVAC system designed to extend driving range by minimizing energy draw.
The Kia Soul EV is set to go on sale in the 3rd quarter of 2014.