The Soul is a massive success – no news there.

We've just finished up in San Diego at the launch of the 2014 Kia Soul (sit tight for our First Drive next week), and we've learned a few things about the Korean automaker's box-car future.

In the main, the Soul is a massive success – no news there – with Kia officials telling us that the US is gobbling up 80 to 90 percent of production coming out of the company's Gwangju plant. Counterintuitively, it's doing so well that its demand is actually hurting the viability of potential spinoff models like the 2012 Track'ster concept shown above, along with other variants. The issue is production capacity – or rather a lack thereof. In 2012, the Soul sold 112,000 copies here (its best-ever performance) and Michael Sprague, Kia's Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, says "we could have sold a lot more." The problem is, Kia Motors America can't get any more units, the factory is running flat-out. Thus, with the standard car selling so well, there's no room and little incentive to develop new models.

Response to the widebody Track'ster was off the charts.

That isn't going to stop Kia from coming to market with a Soul EV, which is expected to be shown at a US auto show some time this upcoming season, but it is making it hard to justify adding something like the Track'ster or a Soul turbo. This, despite company officials telling Autoblog that they'd love to see the 201-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo from the recently introduced 2014 Forte SX snugged in the Soul's engine bay. The engine fits and the new K platform is up to the task, but there's also the question of price – Executive Director of Product Planning, Orth Hedrick, tells us that such a model would likely have to cost around $2,500 more, and the automaker isn't sure they want the Soul's pricing bandwidth to extend that high, especially with the turbocharged Sportage already available.

Sprague admits response to the widebody Track'ster was off the charts and the project is still very much on the table, but to hear him tell it, the model sounds unlikely as long as the Soul continues to be capacity constrained. Reading between the lines a bit, it would seem that if US demand continues to be as robust as it has been, Kia is going to have to find a way to build the Soul in North America soon – possibly by expanding its West Point, Georgia plant, which is itself maxxed out building the Optima and Sorento. Given how long it would take to build out and tool up West Point, though, it seems like the Track'ster's window of viability is closing. In the meantime, the buying public will have to be happy with the redone styling of the Track'ster-influenced 2014 Soul.


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  • 24 Comments
      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let's hope the guy who worked on the lackluster Veloster Turbo isn't assigned to the Soul project.
      tiguan2.0
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sorry, but the proportion of this car are just wrong. Go look at the VW Scirocco if you want a smallish hatch coupe for good proportions.
      mary.keana
      • 1 Year Ago
      Holycrap, KIA revises the snout on the SOULess, and Autoblog goes apeshit. Six articles this month so far over a new lip on the front of the Soul. Guess KIA is paying the bills around here.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mary.keana
        [blocked]
      Bernard
      • 1 Year Ago
      Build it. I'm proud of Kia. They've come a long way. Hopefully they can keep improving. Now get that AWD Soul done!
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      John S
      • 1 Year Ago
      Kia needs to find a way to make a Soul with a 6ft open bed behind it. AWD not necessary, nor V-6. Define a new compact pickup for a new era. No need for payload or horsepower wars. And hurry up. The Rangers run by the car parts distributors and Orkin man aren't gonna last forever .
        EZen
        • 1 Year Ago
        @John S
        I definitely see Americans jossling for position to buy a small, underpowered, Korean, completely unproven truck platform...
        thatitaliankid321
        • 1 Year Ago
        @John S
        Chicken tax... but then honda should bring back the del sol as an el camino type car then too
      jf.bouchard
      • 1 Year Ago
      Almost anything with a wide body looks good. This Soul is no exception.
      Scr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Time to build another plant in the southern US! The idea of a turbo Soul with a manual transmission (and loaded) is appealing. I always wondered why Kia never made the row-your-own box an option on their top end model of the Soul, while you can get it on the lower two.
        789dm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scr
        Yeah I am surprised if they said KIA Soul sells really well here why not built one here? Maybe there are no import tariff between Korea and US?
          Scr
          • 1 Year Ago
          @789dm
          They simply don't have the capacity. They are pretty much maxed out with the Hyundai engine plant here, and builds the Elantra and the Sonata is pretty much running full bore. And Kia builds the Sorrento and Optima in their 4 year old Georgia plant. I also don't think they expected the Soul to be the hit it became. With the strikes in Korea and their vehicles selling so well, another flex manufacturing plant in the US would be a wise investment.
      EZen
      • 1 Year Ago
      I feel like this would compete perfectly with the Mazdaspeed3, Ford Fiesta/Focus ST's, Impreza WRX, etc.
      piggybox
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like the concept. There's room in the market for a few more Juke competitors.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      oknahs
      • 1 Year Ago
      The design is off the charts and would appeal to the more affluent buyer that would be considering a mini cooper. Not only do I like the design my wife who was a mini cooper fan really likes the concept. It should be powered by a turbo with at least 200 hp like the veloster. I would consider it for my shopping and errand car. Pricing for a fully optioned one around $28k a premium over the loaded Veloster. This price would be considerably less than a fully loaded mini S.
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