As sister company Hyundai delivers its first Tucson fuel cell vehicles in California, Kia has kicked off volume production of the Soul EV in Korea. We've driven the prototype and are excited about the arrival of this electric vehicle. Kia is already calling the production start a landmark event, but let's remember that other automakers have been building production EVs for years now.

The EVs won't be exported outside of Korea until later in 2014, but the automaker is hoping to make 5,000 a year at its Gwangju facility. The first batch is headed to "select European countries" with more coming to Europe at a later date. The vehicle might be coming to the US in the third quarter. The Soul EV is Kia's second production EV, following the Ray EV. Kia only made 2,500 of them for governmental agency use in Korea.

We've got a little video on the Soul EV here. As a reminder, the Soul has a 27-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery which is good for a now-official range (on the European test cycle) of 212 kilometers. That's 132 miles, but expect a good chunk to get knocked off when it gets rated on the US text cycle. For example, the Nissan Leaf is rated at 199 kilometers (123 miles) in Europe but only 84 miles from the EPA. Read Kia's press release below.
Show full PR text
Start of production for all-electric Kia Soul EV

Volume production of Soul EV for export is a landmark in Kia's history
Ideal for commuters, Soul EV goes on sale outside Korea later in 2014
Class-leading drive range of 212 km certified for Europe
81.4 kW motor produces 285 Nm of torque for 'fun-to-drive' motoring

The first vehicles off the production line are destined for select European countries and are scheduled to go on sale across the continent during the second half of the year. The Soul EV is manufactured at Kia's Gwangju facility in Korea, where annual output of the electric car is planned to reach 5,000 units.

"Now that production of export models has begun, the new Soul EV is truly at the forefront of Kia's 'Clean Mobility' program, providing environmentally-friendly transport to our customers around the world," comments Thomas Oh, Executive Vice President and COO, Kia Motors Corporation.

"Although it is Kia's first globally-sold all-electric vehicle, the Soul EV is our second-generation battery electric vehicle and benefits significantly from our in-depth experience gained from development of the Ray EV and proven daily operations of the Ray EV fleet in Korea for the past three years."

Embodying the iconic design language of the second-generation Kia Soul, the Soul EV is a uniquely designed battery electric vehicle perfectly suited for city commuters thanks to its class-leading drive range, a spacious cabin and generous cargo area.

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Featuring a high-capacity 192-cell 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, the Soul EV's 212 km drive range is now certified for Europe. Behind the Soul EV's outstanding drive range are industry-leading 200 Wh/kg cell energy density and a number of state-of-the art energy-saving features, such as the new heat pump, smart air intake control system and a new individual ventilation system, which ensure maximum driving range without losing energy for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC). The Soul EV also employs regenerative braking to capture and recycle kinetic energy generated while the car is coasting and braking.
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Power comes from an 81.4 kW (110 ps) electric motor, producing a generous and instantly available 285 Nm (29kgm) of torque and driving the front wheels via a single speed constant ratio gear reduction unit. Ensuring that the Soul EV retains all the 'fun-to-drive' character of the regular Soul, rapid acceleration to 100 kph (62 mph) is predicted to take 11.2 seconds, while top speed is in the region of 145 kph (90 mph).
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The pack is mounted beneath the cabin, ensuring a low centre of gravity and contributing to the car's accomplished ride, handling and refinement, plus more mature and composed on-road behaviour.

Charging is accomplished by plugging the Soul EV into any standard household electricity supply. Recharging times are up to five hours for a fully depleted battery using a 6.6 kW AC slow charger. An 80 percent charge can be achieved in as little as 25 minutes with a 100 kW or 33 minutes at 50 kW DC charger (if available).

The new Soul EV has achieved the world automotive industry's first UL Environment Validation for containing bio-based plastic of 23,942g and bio-based organic carbon content of 10%. The range of recycled interior materials in the Soul EV include Bio Plastic, Bio Foam, Bio Fabric and Bio PET Felt, together with low volatile organic compounds and newly developed antibacterial materials and paint.

Editor's Notes

Kia Motors Europe
Kia Motors Europe is the European sales, marketing, and service arm of the Kia Motors Corporation. With its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, it covers 30 markets in Europe.

About Kia Motors Corporation
Kia Motors Corporation (www.kia.com) – a maker of quality vehicles for the young-at-heart – was founded in 1944 and is Korea's oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles. Over 2.7 million Kia vehicles a year are produced in nine manufacturing and assembly operations in five countries which are then sold and serviced through a network of distributors and dealers covering around 150 countries.

Kia today has over 47,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of US$42 billion. It is the major sponsor of the Australian Open and an official automotive partner of FIFA – the governing body of the FIFA World Cup™. Kia Motors Corporation's brand slogan – "The Power to Surprise" – represents the company's global commitment to surprise the world by providing exciting and inspiring experiences that go beyond expectations.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      2 wheeled menace
      • 3 Days Ago
      10's of people can't wait to buy their compliance EV!...
        sirvixisvexed
        • 3 Days Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        DOZENS you pessimist!
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 3 Days Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Shame on you both, it's 10's of dozens waiting to buy these damned Souls. Once you buy one, you can save your Soul.
      BipDBo
      • 3 Days Ago
      This looks really appealing, and the Soul has been a big sales success in the US. I had high hopes for it, until I saw that they "hope" to produce 5,000. That's a really small volume. Perhaps that's just for the first year and they hope to ramp up later, possibly even bringing production to the US. One can only hope, but I suspect that Kia intends for it to be low volume due to it being unprofitable. Perhaps they are just wanting to get their feet wet into BEV. Perhaps its use in the US is simply for CARB compliance.
      Grendal
      • 3 Days Ago
      Dan. Please get in here and yell at Hyundai for the serious lack of aerodynamics on this thing. It's nice they put a larger pack in it, except they threw away any extra range due to the aerodynamics. :-P C'mon guys let's put a little effort into this.
        Jim1961
        • 3 Days Ago
        @Grendal
        The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt share a chassis with high volume compact cars (Versa, Cruze) to keep costs down. Fiat/Chrysler, VW, Ford, Honda, etc, etc used the same strategy. The Soul is Kia's high volume, low cost, compact car. It makes perfect sense to me even though I effing hate boxy cars.
      electric-car-insider
      I would love to see an electric Elantra. Kia is apparently trying to fill a gap in the market so that they don't have to spend much money marketing the Soul EV to meet their CARB compliance requirements. Nice to see a bump in battery capacity as well as quick charge. Not a big stride forward but progress nonetheless.
        Spec
        • 3 Days Ago
        @electric-car-insider
        It is nice that they put in a larger battery but it is wasted on such a boxy unaerodynamic car as 2 Wheel so eloquently explained below. Maybe Dan really does have a point . . . these car-makers ARE idiots to some degree. They've been able to largely ignore aerodynamics for so long because fuel was cheap. And now they don't seem to realize the critical importance of getting the best aerodynamics with EVs . . . although electricity is cheap, batteries are not and thus they really need to design as aerodynamic as possible while remaining aesthetically pleasing. It does seem that Tesla is the only company to realize this.
          BipDBo
          • 3 Days Ago
          @Spec
          I think the affects of aerodynamics on the total efficiency and the range would not be as drastic as one would think between using the Soul vs the Forte (Kia's version of the Elantra). The Forte is a pretty aerodynamically slippery car, so you would expect its efficiency, especially on the highway to be much better than the Soul's. With very similar 2.0 liter I-4 and 6 speed auto, the Soul gets 23/31/26 city/highway/combined mpg and the Forte gets 24/36/28. So a difference of 26 to 28 mpg is not that great, and you should expect similar efficiency proportions if these two body styles were turned to EVs. We're talking about a hypothetical difference in range of 7.7%, which they more than made up for by putting in a bigger battery pack then the main competition, the Leaf. The benefit of using the Soul body is greater marketability. The BEV market is already overcrowded with compact car conversions, and CUVs are generally a much better seller in the US than compacts. The Soul is a great seller. Another benefit is packaging. It may have proven much more difficult to pack in all of those batteries into a Forte than into a Soul. The fact that they went with the CUV, obviously because it has more marketability potential tells me that this very small production goal of 5,000 per year might just be temporary. It tells me that they may want to pick up production in following years and make this more than a compliance car.
          Spec
          • 3 Days Ago
          @Spec
          Well that 31 highway to 36 highway is a pretty big jump. And one of the big complaints about the EPA mileage system is that it is designed for a relatively slow driving society . . . even the "highway" portion. The Highway Fuel Economy Test (HFET) was established in 1975. Unless you live in traffic-besotted L.A., it’s laughably slow by modern standards, with a maximum speed of 60 mph and an average of 48. When I drive to work, I regularly drive ~72mph. So it makes a big difference in the highway aspect of the EPA rating and even more of a difference in modern real-life driving.
      Spec
      • 3 Days Ago
      At least they are wise enough not to put all their eggs in one basket. But I have to question their selection of a boxy car to electrify. Why not the Elantra?
        2 wheeled menace
        • 3 Days Ago
        @Spec
        Because it would get too many miles of range on the highway if you made it something other than the least aerodynamic shape possible. A Kia Rio gets 37mpg highway with a 1.6L engine.. A Kia Soul gets 30mpg highway with the same engine.. It might get 19% higher range in an aerodynamic body, and we all know that nobody wants that ;)
          2 wheeled menace
          • 3 Days Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Designing a car for urban use has been done again and again and again for EVs, with failure to sell the vehicle being the result. Just look at how successful the Nissan Leaf and Volt are compared to the thousands of city-oriented EVs that have been produced. It's not just low cost that sells these cars, it's capability! face it, we live in a spread out country.. 95% or our country is NOT city and requires highway use. Even if you live in the city, it is inconvenient to have to go use some other transport other than your primary car to head out of the city. They could produce a small EV with seriously higher highway range simply by putting it into a different body that already exists. You will see what happens with the sales numbers, Seth. It will not be a big seller. The buyer has to spend extra on it just for it to be brick-shaped, because it will waste a lot of energy resisting air. I don't think that paying extra for something brick-shaped is something people are willing to do. EVs are already out of the reach for the average person as it is.... that's why gasoline is still dominant!
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 3 Days Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          I suppose I will have to do some Soul searching to find the answer to your question.. Damn their Souls for producing such a limited amount.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 3 Days Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Let me simplify what i'm saying.. Let's say that some car company puts out two EVs with a 32kw-hr battery. One is brick-shaped and can go 100 miles on a charge. One is streamlined and can go 120 miles on a charge. Both can carry the same amount of stuff, but it is easier to get stuff in/out of the brick-shaped vehicle, of course. The price is the same for both, about $30k. Given that the main problem facing EVs is range versus cost... which one do you think people will chose?
          Seth
          • 3 Days Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          The soul outsells all of the other kia vehicles except the optima. They are putting their tech in the vehicle most likely to move metal. (twice the amount as the Forte for example) see: http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48841 That and aero has little impact at city speeds vs as opposed to the highway. The intended demographic would be urban.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 3 Days Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Let me simplify what i'm saying.. Let's say that some car company puts out two EVs with a 32kw-hr battery. One is brick-shaped and can go 100 miles on a charge. One is streamlined and can go 120 miles on a charge. Both can carry the same amount of stuff, but it is easier to get stuff in/out of the brick-shaped vehicle, of course. The price is the same for both, about $30k. Given that the main problem facing EVs is range versus cost... which one do you think people will chose?
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