The Soul EV is currently sold in just 17 dealerships in California, Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America, told AutoblogGreen. "For the next stage, we were originally planning on hitting the east coast, but we are changing that around a little bit. You'll see more availability," he said.
Hedrick said that the change was prompted by the simple fact that the Soul is attracting new customers. "We went back to the factory and told them it's doing very well and it's now expanded beyond an EV, it's something bigger," he said. "It's helping us get a dialogue with completely new, different customer that we normally wouldn't see in a Kia store. So we would like the opportunity to take it further."
We asked if customer interest in the compliance car caught the company off guard. Hedrick said that wasn't quite the right way to look at the history of the Soul EV. "When we looked at it originally, we were trying to go beyond the compliance part," he said. "We understood, of course, that we had to do it, but we wanted to showcase something that was really strong for us, which is the Soul, and we thought it would help build out the Soul family and bring more people to see us and that's exactly what's happening. It was a little more than compliance but I think we were kind of shocked how well it was received. It's been a huge hit."
"Huge" in this case means bigger than Kia's original production capacity estimates, he said, without getting into specifics. It was "significantly more than what we originally planned for," he said.
The Soul EV is built in Korea and the car is sold there, the US and will be coming to Europe as well. "I don't think they're in a position to ramp up quickly," Hedrick said, "They're in the process of ramping up more and we'll have an announcement, we hope, by New York, about where we're going to go to." The New York Auto Show media days start April 1, 2015.