Following closely on the heels of the new Kia Soul Trail’ster concept revealed at the Chicago auto show this week, Kia has announced that demand for the Soul EV has been quite a bit stronger than the company ever expected. As a result, the Soul EV, which is currently only available at just 17 dealerships in California, will begin selling in other states soon.
Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America, told Autoblog. “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.” Hedrick said the change in plans came about because the Soul is attracting so many 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 customers that we normally wouldn’t see in a Kia store. So we would like the opportunity to take it further.” He declined to reveal what states the Kia Soul EV would be coming to next.
Hedrick admitted that the Kia Soul EV was originally seen strictly as a “compliance car” designed to meet California’s rigorous regulations regarding the number of zero emissions cars in a corporate fleet. But it has gotten to be more than that. Quite a bit more, in fact.
“When we looked at it originally, we were trying to go beyond the compliance part,” Hedrick 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 is a bit of an understatement. It appears that its marketing campaign featuring cuddly cartoon hamsters has been successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
The Soul is not all that much different from the Scion xB, but where the Scion is seen as a dull transportation module for people who can’t afford a real car, the Soul is viewed as a trendy, exciting vehicle for today’s clued in urban professionals. Which means Kia is faced with the delicious dilemma of figuring out how to build lots more of them.