Kia's electric Soul
Kia Motors Corp is rolling out an electric version of its Soul compact car that the Korean automaker plans to begin selling in some U.S. markets later this year according to Reuters.
The 2015 Soul EV, unveiled at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, is Kia's first all-electric, zero-emissions car in the United States and its second "green" car for the U.S. market. It joins a hybrid version of its best-selling Optima sedan that has been available here since 2011.
The Soul EV is powered by an air-cooled lithium-ion polymer battery and an 81.4 kW, 109-horsepower, liquid-cooled electric motor, which produces a 210 lb.-ft. of torque, according to Kia.
The car can go from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 96 km per hour) in less than 12 seconds, has a top speed of 90 mph (144 km per hour) and can drive 80 to 100 miles on a full charge, the company said. The vehicle can be recharged by plugging into any standard 120 volt outlet or a conventional 240v EV charger.
The Soul EV will initially be sold in a handful of states, including California and Oregon, beginning this August, and in New York, New Jersey and Maryland early next year, Kia said. Pricing has not yet been announced.
In an interview with Reuters, Orth Hedrick, the vice president for product planning at Kia Motors America Inc, said the company was waiting to set preliminary sales goals for the new vehicle.
"We don't have firm targets yet," Hedrick said.
Worldwide production of electric vehicles is forecast to increase 67 percent to 403,000 units this year, according to IHS Automotive and Polk.
The increase in EV production is expected to come even as global vehicle production rises less than 4 percent in 2014.
Hedrick said Kia believes that, for now at least, EVs represent the way forward. "It's a lot more accessible - mainly because of the infrastructure," he said. "(So) for the foreseeable future, electric is the way to go."
In January, Kia said it expects its global retail sales to rise 6 percent to 2.9 million vehicles in 2014, driven by demand in China and the United States, where the company expects to sell 630,000 and 585,000 vehicles, respectively.