Kia Soul EV production

As sister company Hyundai delivers its first Tucson fuel cell vehicles in California, Kia has kicked off volume production of the Soul EV in Korea. We've driven the prototype and are excited about the arrival of this electric vehicle. Kia is already calling the production start a landmark event, but let's remember that other automakers have been building production EVs for years now.

The EVs won't be exported outside of Korea until later in 2014, but the automaker is hoping to make 5,000 a year at its Gwangju facility. The first batch is headed to "select European countries" with more coming to Europe at a later date. The vehicle might be coming to the US in the third quarter. The Soul EV is Kia's second production EV, following the Ray EV. Kia only made 2,500 of them for governmental agency use in Korea.

We've got a little video on the Soul EV here. As a reminder, the Soul has a 27-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery which is good for a now-official range (on the European test cycle) of 212 kilometers. That's 132 miles, but expect a good chunk to get knocked off when it gets rated on the US text cycle. For example, the Nissan Leaf is rated at 199 kilometers (123 miles) in Europe but only 84 miles from the EPA. Read Kia's press release below.
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Start of production for all-electric Kia Soul EV

Volume production of Soul EV for export is a landmark in Kia's history
Ideal for commuters, Soul EV goes on sale outside Korea later in 2014
Class-leading drive range of 212 km certified for Europe
81.4 kW motor produces 285 Nm of torque for 'fun-to-drive' motoring

The first vehicles off the production line are destined for select European countries and are scheduled to go on sale across the continent during the second half of the year. The Soul EV is manufactured at Kia's Gwangju facility in Korea, where annual output of the electric car is planned to reach 5,000 units.

"Now that production of export models has begun, the new Soul EV is truly at the forefront of Kia's 'Clean Mobility' program, providing environmentally-friendly transport to our customers around the world," comments Thomas Oh, Executive Vice President and COO, Kia Motors Corporation.

"Although it is Kia's first globally-sold all-electric vehicle, the Soul EV is our second-generation battery electric vehicle and benefits significantly from our in-depth experience gained from development of the Ray EV and proven daily operations of the Ray EV fleet in Korea for the past three years."

Embodying the iconic design language of the second-generation Kia Soul, the Soul EV is a uniquely designed battery electric vehicle perfectly suited for city commuters thanks to its class-leading drive range, a spacious cabin and generous cargo area.

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Featuring a high-capacity 192-cell 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, the Soul EV's 212 km drive range is now certified for Europe. Behind the Soul EV's outstanding drive range are industry-leading 200 Wh/kg cell energy density and a number of state-of-the art energy-saving features, such as the new heat pump, smart air intake control system and a new individual ventilation system, which ensure maximum driving range without losing energy for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC). The Soul EV also employs regenerative braking to capture and recycle kinetic energy generated while the car is coasting and braking.
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Power comes from an 81.4 kW (110 ps) electric motor, producing a generous and instantly available 285 Nm (29kgm) of torque and driving the front wheels via a single speed constant ratio gear reduction unit. Ensuring that the Soul EV retains all the 'fun-to-drive' character of the regular Soul, rapid acceleration to 100 kph (62 mph) is predicted to take 11.2 seconds, while top speed is in the region of 145 kph (90 mph).
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The pack is mounted beneath the cabin, ensuring a low centre of gravity and contributing to the car's accomplished ride, handling and refinement, plus more mature and composed on-road behaviour.

Charging is accomplished by plugging the Soul EV into any standard household electricity supply. Recharging times are up to five hours for a fully depleted battery using a 6.6 kW AC slow charger. An 80 percent charge can be achieved in as little as 25 minutes with a 100 kW or 33 minutes at 50 kW DC charger (if available).

The new Soul EV has achieved the world automotive industry's first UL Environment Validation for containing bio-based plastic of 23,942g and bio-based organic carbon content of 10%. The range of recycled interior materials in the Soul EV include Bio Plastic, Bio Foam, Bio Fabric and Bio PET Felt, together with low volatile organic compounds and newly developed antibacterial materials and paint.

Editor's Notes

Kia Motors Europe
Kia Motors Europe is the European sales, marketing, and service arm of the Kia Motors Corporation. With its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, it covers 30 markets in Europe.

About Kia Motors Corporation
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 nine 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 over 47,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of US$42 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.