Kia now has permission to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in Nevada, and the company plans to start by experimenting with partially driverless tech. It wants to put some of these systems on sale by 2020.
Kia Soul Ev
With 22 months of record Leaf sales under its zero-emission belt, Nissan has started two big ad campaigns for the battery-powered Leaf. On TV, there's the Kick Gas campaign (it's a popular name) and on social media, Nissan is promoting the EV as the "world's cleanest car" (it's a paint thing). We don't know how much the paint prank is costing, but we do have some estimated numbers for the TV ads.
How happy were those Kia hamsters last month? We're guessing they were pretty pleased, because reports are out that the South Korean automaker sold 123 Kia Soul electric vehicles in North America during the model's first month of sales on the continent. Now crank up that funky music.
You'd be forgiven if you weren't fully aware of this vehicle's existence. While the Soul EV is a big deal for Kia, as it marks the Korean brand's first foray into the world of pure electric vehicles here in the US, it simply has not a been able to garner much regard from the average car fan or, really, the automotive press.
Kia must have thought VW was aiming a little high when the German automaker priced its upcoming electric vehicle for the US market. Kia has just announced that the price for its new Soul EV will be $33,700 (before any tax incentives) when it comes to the US later this year. That's well above the base model Nissan Leaf, which starts at $28,980, but a few thousand dollars below the Volkswagen e-Golf, which starts at $35,445.
As Kia gets ready to introduce its first plug-in vehicle to the US market, the 2015 Soul EV, it is also prepping some infrastructure improvements. The company announced today that it is partnering with Greenlots and ABB on offering Greenlots' Sky Smart Charging DC fast chargers at some West Coast Kia dealerships. Greenlots president Brett Hauser told AutoblogGreen that the program will expand to the East Coast in the future.
The heart of the matter is that the battery-electric Kia Soul is better for the environment. And not just because it doesn't create any emissions while on the road. From beginning to end, the Soul EV has a far lower environmental impact than its more conventional counterparts.
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.
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.
The hamsters in those Kia Soul commercials? Looks like they'll be riding real quiet and quite clean a little sooner than we thought. Kia is now saying it will start production of the 2015 Soul EV next month, and sales will start later this year in the company's home country of South Korea. Additionally, according to Reuters, Kia is keeping sales expectations low, suggesting it should sell about 5,000 Soul EVs a year at a price of around $39,000, though the out-of-pocket costs should be cut in ha