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Kia lights up Chicago show with EV

2014-02-07 14:26

READY TO CHARGE: Kia has unveiled its first mass-produced electric vehicle. Image: Newspress

• Soul EV is Kia’s first mass-market battery car
• Offers 'realistic' range of 130-160km
• Set for sale in the UK later in 2014
• Optima gets aerodynamic and technology enhancements

CHICAGO, Illinois - Korean automaker Kia has unveiled its first mass-production battery car, the Soul EV at the 2014 Chicago auto show.

It will be in US showrooms later in 2014 but it is not yet clear if the car will arrive in South Africa any time soon, or even at all. Set to go on sale in the United States later in 2014 and in Europe and the UK after that, the Soul EV will be Kia’s first all-electric, zero-emissions car sold in the US with 20 bio-friendly materials, says the automaker.


The Soul EV uses a highly energy-dense lithium-ion polymer battery.  Located beneath the floor, the 27kWh, air-cooled, 200 watt-hour/kg battery can cover an approximate range of 130-160km on a full charge, says Kia.

The 360 volt 96-cell lithium-ion polymer battery has been engineered for high capacity, thermal stability and safety. 

The automaker says the EV uses the company’s third-generation regenerative braking system to capture up to 12% of the car’s kinetic energy, which is fed back into the battery while the Soul EV is coasting and braking.  There are four different regeneration modes to choose from: ‘Drive’ or ‘Brakes’ modes in Eco-mode ‘Off,’ and ‘Drive’ or ‘Brakes’ modes in Eco-mode ‘On’.

The Soul EV makes charging easy by plugging into any standard 120v outlet or a conventional 240v EV charger.  Found behind a sliding door located in the front grille, making it more convenient to charge inside the owner’s garage or when on the road. According to Kia, recharging times vary from 24 hours for a fully depleted battery using a standard 120-volt outlet and under five hours when plugged into a 240-volt outlet. Kia says: "An 80% charge can be achieved in as little as 33 minutes with a 50kW-output charger."

Kia says it has partnered with three charger providers – Bosch, Leviton and AeroVironment – which gives buyers an opportunity to select the unit best suited to their in-home needs.

The front-wheel drive Soul EV is powered by an 81.4kW electric motor with 285Nm.  Kia says: “The liquid-cooled AC synchronous permanent magnet motor uses multi-layer magnets to help improve efficiency and reduce the whine that’s commonly experienced with other electric vehicles.

The motor delivers its power to the front wheels through a single-speed constant-ratio gear reduction unit.  Acceleration from 0-100km/h is expected to take fewer than 12 seconds with a top speed electronically limited to about 145km/h.


The EV also has the Soul’s ‘floating’ roof that makes the car look like it is wearing wraparound sunglasses, says Kia. Its look is inspired by the 2012 Kia Track’ster concept and retains the iconic square-shouldered broad stance of the original Soul.

Other design features include colour accents in the front and rear panels, LED head and tail lights.  ‘Eco Electric’ badging replaces the normal ‘Soul’ badging found on petrol-powered cars. It also gets specially designed 16” alloy wheels wrapped with specially engineered super low rolling resistance (SLRR) tyres that offer 10% less resistance than standard tyres.


Also new at the show will be the revised Optima Hybrid with tweaks to the front and rear of the car. There are also new wheels designs, an unique grille and lighting elements.

Kia says the improved aerodynamics is contributed by a series of additional vents in the special front bumper which increases airflow and reducing drag while the new wheels  reduce weight and drag as well..

There are no plans to bring the Optima Hybrid to the UK market, and even less to the South African market.

Read more on:    kia  |  auto show  |  chicago  |  electric vehicles  |  new models

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