Hamster Heart, Electric Soul

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

If you’re into EVs but find the Tesla Model S too expensive, and the Leaf too jelly bean, then Kia would like to offer you something with a bit of soul. An electric Soul, that is.

The Soul EV will be the first EV sold outside of South Korea, with experience gained from the development and limited introduction of the Ray EV to government and rental fleets in their native market. Though no specific date has been set for the Soul EV’s North American rollout, Kia says to expect the electric hamstermobile to arrive in showrooms sometime in the second half of 2014, possibly bearing a 2015 model year designation.

If you’re lucky enough to be introduced to the Soul EV next year, expect drive away in a vehicle made for the city without looking like an electric wizard. Under the hood will be an electric motor pushing 109 horses out through the front door while providing 210 square-pounds of Whole Foods Market-pulling torque. Zero to 60 takes about 12 seconds, and you’ll be able to go back to the future with the Soul EV’s top speed of 90 mph.

The Soul EV will utilize what Kia calls the Virtual Engine Sound System, or VESS. At 12 mph or less, or while backing out with those organic goodies, the VESS will emit an audio alert of some sort to warn those hipsters to move out of your way in an ironic manner.

As for range and charging, the Soul EV is definitely meant for commuting to and from the hip neighborhood you call a home, with a target range of 120 miles per charge. While putting in your time at that awesome startup that will revolutionize the way you play with running vicious candy farmers, the Soul’s 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack will take five hours to charge on a standard 240v outlet, or 25 minutes on fast-charging through a 100 kW outlet.

Finally, the Soul EV is not only eco-conscious on the road, but is totally granola on the inside as well: the materials used are composed of biomass, from the foam in the seats to the dashboard holding the instrument cluster and 8-inch display.

The price of admission to feel like an electric hamster? Unknown as of this time, though word on the street is that it might be sold for around $35,000 on our shores. Like the Fiat 500e, this is strictly a compliance car meant to appease regulators. Hyundai’s corporate direction for ZEVs will be based around fuel cells, not electric vehicles.

Photo credit: AutoGuide

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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5 of 16 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Nov 12, 2013

    Fuel cells are a fool's errand, IMO - no infrastructure and a host of consumer handling issues. This Soul might be OK, but it's very late to the EV game - I don't see the point. By 2015 Nissan will have 100k EVs on the road - and Tesla maybe 50k - and both companies will have 2nd-, 3rd-, or 4th-generation vehicles by that time. Plus, the Leaf and mythical Model E will be cheaper. Also, how long will Kia keep pushing the Soul box shape? It has a lot of utility, but it'll be pretty ripe by 2015.

    • See 2 previous
    • Cowgirl Cowgirl on Dec 02, 2013

      The Soul looks more cool than most other EV, that is if you like the gangster toaster look. Very functional space and the sitting position is great. The Leaf was very uncomfortable, my back was hurting after sitting in it for less than 1 minute, I had to exit it immediately as it did tweak my back. The upright sitting position of the Soul will appeal to those who prefer or need a more truck like seat. Not sure how earth friendly the batteries are....

  • Dr. Kenneth Noisewater Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on Nov 13, 2013

    Ugh, too slow.

  • THX1136 While reading the article a thought crossed my mind. Does Mexico have a fairly good charging infrastructure in place? Knowing that it is a bit poorer economy than the US relatively speaking, that thought along with who's buying came to mind.
  • Lou_BC Maybe if I ever buy a new car or CUV
  • Lou_BC How about telling China and Mexico, we'll accept 1 EV for every illegal you take off our hands ;)
  • Analoggrotto The original Tassos was likely conceived in one of these.
  • Lorenzo The unspoken killer is that batteries can't be repaired after a fender-bender and the cars are totaled by insurance companies. Very quickly, insurance premiums will be bigger than the the monthly payment, killing all sales. People will be snapping up all the clunkers Tim Healey can find.