There are two ways you can go when building an electric vehicle, either you start with a clean sheet design or you take a vehicle you currently build and modify it. Both methods have their pluses and minuses. Going with a clean sheet gives you the ability to design a vehicle with an electric powertrain in mind, but the costs can grow exorbitantly. The opposite is true when taking a vehicle and modifying it electrification.
This was a decision Kia was faced with a few years ago when they began working on their first electric vehicle. Ultimately, the company decided to use one of their current vehicles. But which one would offer the least amount of problems in the transformation? To their eyes, the Soul would be the perfect candidate. Let’s see if this decision paid off.
The standard Kia Soul is already a vehicle that stands out thanks to the funky boxy design and range of wild colors. The electric version steps it up with small changes such as lighting with a blue tint, wheels painted in white, and a new front fascia with a closed off grille. That grille hides the Soul EV’s recharging ports. Inside, the Soul EV is mostly the same as the standard Soul with an expressive design and high-quality materials. Kia added some unique touches to the Soul EV’s interior such as a white trim around the gear shift and center console, and blue piping for the seats.
One of the key issues when converting a standard vehicle to electric power is the loss of space due to the batteries. The Soul EV is no exception to this rule. Compared to the standard Soul, the EV has less cargo space as the batteries take up space that is normally part of an underfloor storage tray. But most owners won’t notice this loss in space as the Soul EV can still take in a lot of cargo thanks to the boxy shape.
Power comes in the form of an 81kW electric motor delivering 109 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. While the Soul EV is 600 pounds heavier than the standard Soul, it doesn’t feel like it has gained any weight. With torque fully available at zero rpm, the Soul EV moves quite quickly. Moreover, the electric powertrain was able to provide power instantaneously whenever I needed to make a pass or merge onto a freeway.
Kia says the Soul EV has a range of 93 Miles on a full charge, which is higher than the Ford Focus EV and Nissan Leaf EV. A full charge takes about four to five hours when plugged into 240V charger, or 24 hours when plugged in 120V outlet. During the week, it took about eight to ten hours for the Soul EV to charge back up from a day of driving (about 40 miles in my case).
The Soul EV retains the same ride qualities as the standard Soul as it seems to glide over bumps and imperfections. There is barely any road noise entering the cabin, but wind noise is somewhat apparent. This is due to the shape of the Soul.
Kia has done an excellent job with their first electric vehicle. The Soul EV shows that with that with the right base vehicle, you can create an electric vehicle that is vying for best in class honors. The big downside to the Soul EV is that Kia is only selling it certain markets. At the time of this writing, Kia is selling the Soul EV in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. If you happen to be considering and are in one of the states where Kia is selling the Soul EV, then be sure to give it a look.
Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul EV and Insurance
Model: Soul EV
Engine: 81 kW Electric Motor
Driveline: Single-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 109 @ 0
Torque @ RPM: 210 @ 0
Fuel Economy: N/A
Curb Weight: 3,289 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea
Base Price: $35,700
As Tested Price: $35,700*
(*Note: Price doesn't include destination charge or Federal and State incentives.)