Production of the Kia Soul EV begun at Kia’s factory in Gwangju, Korea this week, with the first Kia Soul EV available for sale in North America in the second half of 2014. While Kia has previously offered electric cars – the Venga EV and the Ray EV – to its domestic customers, this will be the first time Kia has sold an EV outside the home country.
Kia’s experience with those home market electric vehicles has led to development of the second generation technology featured in the Soul EV. For instance, the 27 kWh battery in the new model has the highest energy density currently available in any EV, and can get an 80% recharge in just 30 minutes. Kia believes that EVs, rather than plug-in hybrids, are the way to go since most electrics now have enough range to meet the daily driving needs of the majority of customers.
Unfortunately, the 109 horsepower means acceleration from 0 to 60 MPH takes about 12 seconds, which is even longer than the Toyota Prius, and until pricing is announced, it’ll be hard to fairly compare it against cars like the Nissan Leaf. Even so, Kia has set a target of 5000 Soul EV sales this year, implying high hopes for their electric ambitions.