While its sister brand Hyundai invests in hydrogen fuel cell technology, Kia is entering the battery-powered electric vehicle market with the new Soul EV. The Korean automaker plans to sell some 5,000 units of its first electric vehicle around the world. While it's not saying exactly what proportion it hopes to sell in (or how many it's allocating to) any individual market, the latest reports indicate that it expects the United States to be its biggest market.
Part of that may come down to the growing popularity of electric vehicles in America, but also to the substantial incentives offered by federal and local government agencies towards buying an EV. Though the Soul EV retails for a reported 42.5 million won in South Korea – equivalent to less than $41,500 at today's rates, of which the battery alone accounts for about 40 percent – incentives will mean that the actual cost to a buyer in the US will be about half that, although Kia hasn't announced official pricing yet.
The latest electric vehicle on the market is based on the existing Kia Soul hatchback, a vehicle chosen due to its packaging vis-à-vis more conventionally shaped vehicles. The 27 kWh lithium ion battery pack adds about 330 pounds to the vehicle's curb weight, resulting in a 0-62 time of 11.2 seconds and a 92-mile range. The Kia Soul EV will initially be sold only in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland.