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 half because of South Korean government subsidies.
As for the US, Kia spokesman James Hope tells AutoblogGreen that while the company hasn’t set a definitive debut date, “we are targeting Q3 of this year.” Hope says Kia isn’t providing Soul EV sales guidance for the US, so we’ll just have to see where the EV chips fall come September or so.
Reuters also notes that sister company Hyundai will start selling its own battery-electric vehicle in 2016, a timetable confirmed by Hyundai Senior Vice President Lee Ki-sang. Both Kia and Hyundai are shooting for a South Korean electric-vehicle market that they hope will expand exponentially from a total of just 713 sales last year. The front-wheel-drive Soul EV will have a 81-kilowatt electric motor, and its single-charge range will be about 120 miles. The model was first shown off at the Chicago Auto Show last month, but Autoblog scored an early prototype test drive ahead of the reveal – check out our feature drive report here.
Related Gallery2015 Kia Soul EV: Chicago 2014
(SEOUL) March 4, 2014 — The new Kia Soul EV made its European debut at the 84th Salon International de l’Automobile in Geneva, Switzerland, today alongside a special technology exhibit of the brand’s next-generation hybrid powertrain. These debutants were joined on the stand by the enhanced Kia Sportage and upgraded Optima Hybrid for the European market, as well as the GT4 Stinger concept car, which made its global debut at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, and a new pedelec Electric Bicycle.
Embodying the iconic design of the recently-launched second-generation Kia Soul, the new Kia Soul EV will become the brand’s first globally-sold electric vehicle when it goes on sale globally later in 2014.
The Soul EV is a front-wheel drive electric vehicle with a high-capacity 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and class-leading 200 Wh/kg battery cell energy density. Power comes from an 81.4 kW electric motor producing a generous 285 Nm of torque. The vehicle will appeal to city commuters thanks to a driving range of around 200 km on a single charge.
Buyers of the Soul EV will benefit from its accomplished ride and handling and high level of refinement thanks to the car’s low centre of gravity, revised platform and chassis and new materials designed to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.
To maximise the efficiency and potential range of the Soul EV, the vehicle features a number of energy-saving technologies that reduce load on the battery and increase maximum driving range. These include new advanced heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technologies, including a world-first ‘driver-only’ individual ventilation system, four-mode regenerative braking and a battery heating system.
The Soul EV will also be one of the most practical EVs on the market as a result of minimal intrusion by the battery pack into the cabin and cargo space. As with every other Kia model sold in Europe, the Soul EV will guarantee owners peace of mind thanks to Kia’s unique 7-Year, 150,000 km warranty.
As well as showing new production-ready low emissions vehicles at Geneva, Kia is displaying a a new hybrid powertrain technology, developed by the brand’s European R&D center for use in future Kia models around the world.
The hybrid system consists of a 48V lead carbon battery connected to a small electric motor, increasing the internal combustion engine’s power output. The battery also supplies energy to an electric supercharger, which increases torque and power at low engine speeds.
Under the right conditions, the new hybrid powertrain can drive a car in electric-only mode at low speeds and while cruising, while the battery is recharged under deceleration. And when the car is stationary, the technology also acts as a zero-emissions stop-start system, performing this function with almost no noise or vibration as it is a belt-starting system. The technology also enables Kia engineers to reduce the size – and weight – of its vehicles’ existing 12V battery.
Lining up alongside the new hybrid powertrain system, Kia also revealed details of its all-new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT).
The first seven-speed transmission from the Korean manufacturer has been engineered to deliver both greater fuel efficiency and improved performance. Engineers have been targeting a seven percent improvement in fuel efficiency and a five percent improvement in 0-100 kph (62 mph) acceleration. NVH has also been a key focus for the team behind the DCT’s development, with an external damper ensuring a high level of refinement for the new transmission.
Unveiled earlier in the year at the North American International Auto Show, Kia’s stunning GT4 Stinger Concept appears in Europe for the first time at Geneva. The GT4 Stinger, created by Kia’s California design team, moves Kia in a bold new styling direction and has maximum driving enjoyment central to its appeal.
Powered by a 315 ps 2.0-litre turbocharged gasoline direct injection (T-GDI) four-cylinder engine, the eye-catching 2+2 sportscar seeks to involve the driver as much as possible, with a six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. As a statement of the concept’s dynamic intent, the car is fitted with all-round independent double-wishbone suspension, a high-downforce carbon fibre front splitter and front-brake cooling vents. The signature Kia grille sits low to the ground for maximum engine cooling and cold-air induction.
While there are currently no plans to bring the concept to production, Kia has a history of delivering production vehicles that bear a strong resemblance to the concepts that precede them, and the GT4 Stinger provides an enticing glimpse into Kia’s possible future.
Responding to customer feedback and developments in the increasingly-competitive European marketplace, Kia also showed the enhanced Kia Sportage. The compact crossover, the brand’s best-selling model in Europe with more than 89,000 sales in 2013, receives small but significant upgrades to its modern exterior, as well as a refreshed interior design and new materials throughout the cabin.
Also making its European debut, the upgraded Kia Optima Hybrid receives a number of visual changes and is fitted with a range of new features, including Kia’s third-generation regenerative braking system with greater braking feel and response, a new touchscreen interface specific to the Hybrid system and a new (optional) High Tech Pack of driver assist systems.
Production of the upgraded Optima Hybrid is scheduled to start in Korea during April 2014 and the new model will go on sale in Europe and other markets later in the year.
Kia unveiled two prototypes of its latest zero-emission vehicles to a specially invited media audience, a pedelec Electric Bicycle, which is designed to appeal to commuters thanks to a range of around 40 km on a single charge and a four-hour recharge time. Two models are shown at the salon – the City model, for urban use, and MTB, for tougher terrain.
The Kia Electric Bicycle (KEB) concept is propelled by a 250 Watt electric motor producing a generous 45 Nm of torque, and powered by a 36 volt, 10 amp lithium-ion polymer battery pack which is easily detached for recharging. The KEB weighs around 20 kg in total, and has a top speed of 25.0 kph (15.5 mph) to comply with EU regulations.
Designed and engineered by at Kia’s Namyang R&D Center in Korea, the KEB features an innovative monocoque metal frame, produced by an advanced metal stamping technology and a robotic welding process – resulting in automotive industry quality control. The two prototype KEB models are made using a frame, electric motor and power pack manufactured in Korea, together with brake and gear components from Shimano in Japan. Final assembly was carried out in Germany.
Media and public reactions to the prototype KEB will be monitored closely by Kia Motors Corporation, 70 years after it first manufactured bicycles in Korea during 1944.
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 10 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 around 48,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of over US$43 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.