|Soul EV. Click to enlarge.|
Kia Motors America (KMA) introduced the 2015 Soul EV at the Chicago Auto Show. Scheduled to go on sale in the third quarter of 2014, the Soul EV will be Kia’s first battery-electric car sold in the US. Kia also highlighted its Niro hybrid concept along with the 2014 Optima hybrid at the event.
The Soul EV is equipped with a 27kWh, air-cooled, 200 Wh/kg Li-ion polymer battery pack located beneath the floor. Kia expects the pack to support a range of approximately 80-100 miles (129-161 km) of real-world driving on a full charge. Internal testing and evaluation showed results exceeding 100 miles in some instances.
The 360V 96-cell lithium-ion polymer battery has been engineered for high capacity, thermal stability and safety. The battery features a nickel-cobalt-manganese cathode, which helps increase capacity, and a graphite-based anode, which increases durability while reducing weight. Additionally, the cells use a gel electrolyte, and each cell contains ceramic separators to significantly improve thermal stability and safety.
The Soul EV uses Kia’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.
Soul EV owners can choose between four different regeneration modes: “Drive” or “Brakes” modes in Eco-mode “Off,” and “Drive” or “Brakes” modes in Eco-mode “On” (the “Brakes” setting with Eco-mode “On” producing the most regeneration).
The Soul EV charges at any standard 120v outlet or with a conventional 240v EV charger. Two charging ports are standard, including a SAE J1772 port for Level 1 and Level 2 AC, and a CHAdeMo DC fast-charging port (480v). The dual ports are found behind a sliding door located in the front grille. 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. An 80% charge can be achieved in as little as 33 minutes with a 50 kW-output charger.
Kia has partnered with three charger providers—Bosch, Leviton and AeroVironment. Kia retailers who sell the Soul EV will offer charging at no cost to Soul EV owners, making charging even more convenient.
The front-wheel drive Soul EV is powered by an 81.4 kW, 109-hp electric motor, producing 210 lb-ft (285 N·m) of torque. 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 0-60 mph is expected to take fewer than 12 seconds with a top speed electronically limited to approximately 90 mph.
The battery’s location beneath the floor offers the stable feel of a lower center of gravity, which helps ride and handling and ensures that the EV remains true to the Soul’s fun-to-drive reputation. Additional cross bracing beneath the low-mounted battery contributes to a 5.9% improvement in torsional rigidity over the gasoline-powered Soul.
Improved aerodynamics and the absence of engine noise, combined with special sound-proofing materials, result in a quiet ride. For the benefit of pedestrian safety, the Soul EV is equipped with a Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS) that emits an auditory alert at speeds below 12 mph and whenever the car is in reverse.
Because of the battery’s flat design and location beneath the floor, there is only a slight 3.1-inch reduction to rear seat leg room (from 39.1 to 36 inches) from the non-EV Soul, yet Soul EV still offers more rear seat leg room than other key EV competitors. Rear shoulder and hip room remain unchanged from the gasoline-powered Soul, making Soul EV one of the roomiest in the segment.
Rear cargo space is minimally impacted as the space under the cargo floor is utilized for the battery cooling fan and storage of the standard 120v portable charger.
Distinguished by Kia’s most extensive use of bio-based materials, the Soul EV has received UL’s first automotive environmental claim validation for its 10.9 lbs. (4.9 kg) of bio-based organic content in interior plastic.
Front and center is the use of BTX-free paint on the audio system surround, vent bezel and the floor console. Bio-based plastics derived from cellulose and sugar cane are found in many places within the cabin, including the door panels, headliner, seat trim, roof pillars and carpeting. In all, organic, bio-based materials are used in 19 different interior parts.
Separate from the bio-based content validation, extensive use of antibacterial materials also help to keep the cabin clean and are found on the gear selector, audio and HVAC controls, instrument panel switchgear and the floor-mounted center console. Combined, eco-friendly materials are used in 23 different interior parts.
Standard Soul EV amenities include navigation, Rear Camera Display, Bluetooth hands free operation, power windows, power driver’s seat, cruise control, 6.6kW on-board charger and an HVAC system designed to extend driving range by minimizing energy draw.
The Soul EV uses four key technologies to maximize HVAC efficiency: an available heat pump (optional on Base, standard on “+”); individual ventilation; scheduled ventilation; and air intake control. The heat pump and surplus heat recovered from the Soul EV’s electrical systems help heat cabin air.
Individual ventilation allows selection of “Driver Only,” which stops airflow to the passenger side front dash and floor vents and the floor vents for the rear passenger compartment, thereby focusing airflow on the driver and reducing the amount of energy needed to reach a comfortable interior temperature. Scheduled ventilation reduces EV energy use by pre-heating or cooling the passenger compartment prior to starting the car, while it is still plugged into a charger. Air intake control regulates inner and outer air flow to minimize HVAC usage, regulating interior temperature by carefully managing recirculated cabin air.
UVO EV Services, a special version of Kia’s telematics and infotainment system, is available at no cost for the first five years of ownership. Utilizing an embedded connectivity solution powered by the Verizon network and an integral smartphone app, UVO EV Services provides owners with in-vehicle connectivity that includes navigation and added convenience features specifically tailored for the Soul EV. UVO EV Services provides real-time battery-level status, distance to empty, and the ability to search for nearby charging stations.
Also, via the UVO EV app, owners can preset charging time and charging level ratios, as well as precondition the vehicle cabin with remote control of the HVAC presets. Preconditioning the vehicle moderates cabin temperature in advance, helping reduce battery draw once the Soul EV is uncoupled from the charging station.
The Soul EV also features Kia’s first use of Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology. Low energy consumption and virtually no heat build-up make OLED suited for an electric-vehicle application. Found within the Soul EV’s exclusive Supervision instrument cluster, the 3.5-inch OLED screen provides information on the vehicle’s energy flow, charging time, ECO driving level and energy economy, which measures how efficiently the battery is operating. Additionally, the OLED screen provides a three-stage alert for the Soul EV’s State of Charge (SOC), which allows the driver to quickly decipher how much charge remains within the battery and when it’s time to plug in to a charging unit.
The Soul EV will initially be sold in California and Oregon in the West and several Eastern states including New York, New Jersey and Maryland—regions with the largest EV markets and infrastructure. KMA will look to offer the vehicle in other markets in the near future as infrastructure and demand grow. Pricing for the Soul EV will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch.