Today I began my search for an all-electric city car.

There is a fairly limited selection of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) on the market, but I’m lucky to live in California which is ground zero for the nascent industry. While Tesla and its Model S grab most of the headlines, its lofty price tag (usually around $90,000+) renders it unobtainable for average consumers.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) requires a small percent of  the vehicles sold by large manufacturers in California to be zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). Zero emission vehicles are generally plug-in (battery) electric vehicles (PEV) while a very small number are powered by hydrogen fuel cells (FCEV).  California offers a generous $2,500 rebate if you purchase or lease a ZEV.  This is in addition to a federal tax credit of $7,500 for the purchase of an EV.

To clarify things, the federal tax credit is a “use it or lose it” credit. In other words, if you don’t use the whole credit in the year  you purchase the EV, you lose it.  This is great for wealthy customers who can afford a $100,000 Tesla Model S and likely pay more than $7,500 a year in federal income taxes. But the credit may be much more difficult to use if your income and car budget dictate a much more modestly-priced car.

This is where a lease is useful. When you lease an EV, the leasing company is able to use the federal credit to reduce  your lease payments. That’s why car companies like Fiat can offer a fully-loaded, $33,150 500e for $199/month for 36 months with only $999 down.  You see, when the credit is used by a business (in this case the Fiat’s captive finance company), it’s treated as a normal business credit which can be carried forward for up to 20 years.  As an individual taxpayer, you’re screwed.

The California rebate is just that: a cash rebate for the purchase OR lease of an ZEV. The lease must be for at least 36 months to qualify. And anyone, regardless of income or how much tax you pay, can claim the rebate.

So what’s a “compliance car” and why do I keep hearing that hurled at these EVs as a pejorative?

2014 Toyota RAV4 EV

2014 Toyota RAV4 EV

The 2014 Toyota RAV4 that I tested is a classic “compliance” car.  It was created solely to comply with the CARB zero emission vehicle requirements.

There is a misconception that just because a car was created solely to comply with regulations that it must be somehow half-baked. You know, they just rip out a conventional powertrain and stuff in an electric motor and a battery.  But while many of the compliance cars (e.g., Chevy Spark EV, Ford Focus EV, Fiat 500e, Honda Fit EV, Smart fortwo ED, Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Volkswagen e-Golf) on the surface appear to be cynical ploys to mollify the crazies in California, they are every bit as entertaining and capable as non-compliance cars (cars engineered and manufactured to be profitable and sold worldwide) like the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S and BMW i3.

It’s believed that most compliance cars aren’t profitable. For example, last May, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne made headlines by asking people not to buy the Fiat 500e because he said FCA loses $14,000 on each one.  With no other ZEV in its portfolio, FCA needed to make the 500e to comply with the CARB rules.  It’s likely that Toyota loses a lot on each RAV4 EV, but it’s a drop in the bucket to a company as big and profitable as Toyota.

Toyota has a long history with Tesla. “Long” is a relative term when it comes to Tesla, which was only created in 2003. Way back in 2010, Toyota made a $50 million investment in Tesla and then nearly gave away to Tesla, at the bargain price of $42 million,  the shuttered manufacturing facility of New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) in Freemont, California.  Concurrently, Toyota and Tesla announced an agreement to develop an electric RAV4.  Tesla agreed to supply the powertrain (motor, battery, etc.) and electronics/electronic management software and Toyota did the rest of the engineering and manufacturing.  The old NUMMI plant is now the worldwide manufacturing plant for the Tesla Model S and the upcoming Model X.

Tesla provides the motor for the 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV.

Tesla provides the motor for the 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV.

Toyota never really tried very hard to market the RAV4 EV. It’s $50,625 (before federal tax credit), which is $15,000 more than a Nissan Leaf SL with a smaller battery but similar range.  It’s also about the same prices as a fully-loaded BMW i3, with none of the premium style and quality of the BMW.  When it was introduced in September of 2012, it was offered on lease for $599/month for 36 months with $3,500 down. Not many moved off dealer lots.

What got my attention was Toyota’s lease offer of $279/month for 36 months with $4,999 down.  When I shopped for the car on October 1, 2014, I was told that Toyota was still offering a similar deal to move the remaining 2014 inventory.  According to Toyota’s website, the latest offer is $289/month/36 months (12,000 miles/year) with $4,500 down. According to InsideEVs.com, Toyota needs to sell approximately 2,600 RAV4 EVs to satisfy its CARB quota and, as of October 1, they estimate there are around 470 left – or about a 2-month supply.

The 8 inch color infotainment screen is beautiful on the Toyota RAV4 EV.

The 8 inch color infotainment screen is beautiful on the Toyota RAV4 EV.

The 2014 RAV4 EV comes fully loaded – with no option packages or trim levels. Your only choice is the color: Classic Silver Metallic, Shoreline Blue Pearl and Blizzard (White) Pearl.  It’s chock full of goodies: In addition to the usual array of electronic stability nannies, the RAV4 EV sports an 8″ high-definition color infotainment touch-screen running Toyota’s latest generation Entune platform with a bunch of music apps and a specialized suite of EV applications including the location of charging stations and energy consumption. Naturally there is dual zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic headlights, LED running lights and taillights, HomeLink, backup camera, a manual tilt/telescope steering column and the same Smart Key and shifter from the Prius.

The instrument panel, center stack and electronic shifter are all unique to the RAV4 EV. The rest is pure stock, cheap, RAV4.

The instrument panel, center stack and electronic shifter are all unique to the RAV4 EV. The rest is pure stock, cheap, RAV4.

The RAV4 EV is relatively sporty. It boasts zero-60 in 7 seconds and a top speed of 100 mpg – faster that almost any other battery-electric vehicle except the Tesla Model S. The AC induction motor has a maximum 154 hp and up to 273 lb-ft of torque in Sport mode (218 lb-ft in Normal mode).  Just to contrast, the Nissan Leaf’s motor puts out 107 hp with 187 lb-ft torque and, according to Car & Driver, it takes a leisurely 10.2 seconds to hit 60 mph. Ouch.

Of course, if you keep it in Sport mode and drive with a heavy foot, you won’t get the claimed 103 miles per charge with the 41.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.  With the standard 10 kW onboard (SAE J1772) charger and the appropriate (240V, 40A) plug, the battery can fully recharge in 5-6 hours.  These are very important numbers when comparing battery-electric vehicles. The bigger the battery pack, the better. Just ask Tesla with it’s mammoth 85 kWh pack for a 260+ mile range. And the higher-capacity charger allows for faster charging.

The RAV4 EV cargo space looks completely normal. You'd never know there is a battery under all that.  Very handy.

The RAV4 EV cargo space looks completely normal. You’d never know there is a battery under all that. Very handy.

Like the ICE (green-speak for internal combustion engine) RAV4, it’s a handy little 4-door CUV. And also like the last-generation RAV4, it suffers from very cheap plastics, cheap cloth manually-adjusted seats and hard surfaces everywhere. It’s kind of a buzz-kill when you’re talking about 50 large.  With the battery sitting on the floor, there is no loss of interior space. It also feels planted, with a lower center of gravity than the standard RAV4. Of course, it weighs in at whopping 4,032 pounds.

So with all these numbers, what’s it like to drive? It’s utterly conventional and unremarkable except for the silence. With all of the torque instantly available, it’s very fast off the line, which is always exhilarating.  The electric power steering has absolutely no feel, but for a city car with no sporting ambitions, I guess it’s okay. Sitting in stop and go traffic, which represents a major chunk of my in-city driving, it wouldn’t matter. But on the twisties of a canyon road, it wouldn’t inspire much confidence, but I wouldn’t be frightened.

There is no spare tire holder on the back door of the RAV4 EV (there is no spare tire at all). The taillights are slightly different, but otherwise not much to distinguish the EV from the standard RAV4.

There is no spare tire holder on the back door of the RAV4 EV (there is no spare tire at all). The taillights are slightly different, but otherwise not much to distinguish the EV from the standard RAV4.

Visibility was excellent, as you sit up a little bit  high and there is plenty of glass.  In my short drive around the congested streets of Hollywood, it was easy to forget you were in an EV.  Regenerative braking was almost non-existent in normal Drive mode. Push it to B (brake) mode and you could feel some slowing when your lifted off the accelerator – but nothing like the heavy regenerative braking of the BMW i3 and little of the linear, smooth regen-braking of the Model S. The brakes themselves were very spongy, with no feedback. Ugh.

The RAV4 EV has been discontinued by Toyota. But have no fear, the Kia Soul EV will pick up where the RAV4 leaves off, except in a nicer package with more features for less money.

The RAV4 EV has been discontinued by Toyota. But have no fear, the Kia Soul EV will pick up where the RAV4 leaves off, except in a nicer package with more features for less money.

I also didn’t feel confident that the cheap front seats would be comfortable for any length of time and it’s impossible to tell from a test drive if I could find one. But what makes the 2014 RAV4 EV the most tempting is the zippy performance, particularly in Sports mode and its every-day utility.  The only better performance comes in the form of the BMW i3 or the unobtainable Tesla Model S.

After all is said and done, when it comes to an BEV city car, performance isn’t the the only metric.  I need a more comfortable, luxurious cabin with more supportive seats and better tactile and visually-appealing materials. For $50,000 – the RAV4 EV just doesn’t deliver.

Chat  —  Posted: October 2, 2014 in Automobile Manufacturers, Hybrids, Electrics and other "Green" Technology, Toyota
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The 2015 Kia Soul EV is Kia’s first all-electric car. While it’s primarily what’s called a “compliance car” – built to comply with California’s zero emissions requirements –  it’s a credible entry into the growing electric vehicle market that has been dominated by the Tesla Model S and the Nissan Leaf.

2015 Kia Soul EV +

2015 Kia Soul EV +

2015 Kia Soul EV's electric motor. It's a front drive unit like the gasoline-powered Soul.

2015 Kia Soul EV’s electric motor. It’s a front drive unit like the gasoline-powered Soul.

As you can see from the this cutaway, the battery of the Soul EV lays flat on the floor of the car. Like in the Tesla Model S, the battery’s floor pan location lowers the center of gravity which enhances handling and nearly eliminates any battery intrusion into the passenger and cargo areas. Rear passenger leg room loses 3.1 inches, but cargo space is unchanged from the gas model.  It makes for a very handy little electric SUV.

2015 Kia Soul EV cutaway

 

Here’s Kia’s press release for the Soul EV:

2015 SOUL EV OVERVIEW

Fun-and-Funky Goes Green: Soul EV Arrives as Kia’s First All-Electric Vehicle in the U.S.

  • Eco-friendly Soul EV positions brand as a true stakeholder in the growing green segment
  • The impressive 27kWh lithium battery delivers EPA estimated 93 miles of range1
  • Soul EV achieves EPA MPGe1 of 92 miles highway and 120 miles city for a combined mileage rating of 105 miles

IRVINE, Calif., September 11, 2014 – As the centerpiece of the Kia’s ‘Clean Mobility’ efforts, the Soul EV is the embodiment of the brand’s environmentally focused mission, transforming the hip urban crossover into Kia’s first mass-market, all-electric zero emissions vehicle to be sold in the U.S. Combining the iconic design of the Soul with advanced eco-friendly technology has landed the Soul EV in a class all its own. Honored with an industry-first automotive environmental validation by Underwriters Laboratory (UL)2 for its innovative use of bio-based materials, the Soul EV also earned an EPA estimated range rating of 93 miles with an MPGe of 92 miles highway and 120 miles city for a combined mileage of 105 miles….

The Soul EV conveniently features two standard charging ports, a SAE J1772 port for Level 1 and Level 2 AC charging, and a CHAdeMo DC fast-charging port (480v). It can be charged to 80 percent in as little as 33 minutes with a 50 Kw–output fast charger (five hours using a 240v outlet).  Set to launch initially in the ultra-EV-friendly state of California, the lively crossover will go on sale in additional select markets in 2015.

High Energy Density Battery and Usable Power
A top concern for EV buyers has commonly been range anxiety.  The Soul EV addresses this issue with a highly energy-dense lithium-ion polymer battery.  Located beneath the floor, the 27kWh, air-cooled, 200 watt-hour/kg battery enables an EPA estimated range of 93 miles, which is better than all other EVs on the market except the Tesla Model S luxury EV.

The 360-volt, 192-cell, lithium-ion polymer, gel-electrolyte battery has been engineered for high capacity, thermal stability and safety.  Accordingly, the battery features a nickel-cobalt-manganese cathode, which helps increase capacity, and a carbon graphite-based anode, which increases durability while reducing weight.

In an effort to maximize efficiency and range, the Soul EV uses Kia’s third-generation regenerative braking system to capture up to 12 percent 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 drive mode combinations: “Drive” or “Brake” modes in Eco-mode “Off,” and “Drive” or “Brake” modes in Eco-mode “On” (the “Brake” or “B” setting with Eco-mode “On” producing the most regeneration).

The Soul EV makes charging easy by plugging into any standard 120v outlet or 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).  Found behind a sliding door located in the front grille, the dual ports offer flexibility and increase the Soul EV’s go-anywhere appeal, making it more convenient to charge inside the owner’s garage or when on the road.  Recharging times vary from 24 hours for a fully depleted battery using a standard 120v outlet and under five hours when plugged into a 240v outlet.  An 80-percent charge can be achieved from empty in as little as 33 minutes with a 50 kW-output DC fast charger.  Kia has partnered with three charger providers – Bosch, Leviton and AeroVironment™ – which give Soul EV buyers an opportunity to select the unit best suited to their in-home needs. 

Additionally, the 17 Kia retailers participating in the first wave of the Soul EV launch each will be equipped with multiple Level 2 chargers and a DC fast charger, bringing California’s DC fast charging network total to 215, a nearly nine percent increase statewide.  KMA’s EV charging infrastructure plan provides Soul EV buyers with broad coverage, flexibility and excellent support, and Kia’s networking partnership with Greenlots will connect customers to DC fast chargers in convenient locations throughout California.

The front-wheel drive Soul EV is powered by a 109-hp (81.4kW) electric motor, producing a generous 210 lb.-ft. of instantaneous torque.  The liquid-cooled AC synchronous permanent magnet motor uses multi-layer magnets to help improve efficiency and reduce the whine common to most 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 top speed electronically limited to approximately 90 mph. The battery’s location beneath the floor results in 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 percent improvement in torsional rigidity over the gasoline-powered Soul and offers protection to the battery.

Improved aerodynamics and the absence of engine noise, combined with special sound-proofing materials, result in an exceptionally quiet ride.  For the benefit of pedestrian safety, the Soul EV is equipped with a Pedestrian Warning System (PWS) that emits an auditory alert at speeds below 12 mph and whenever the car is in reverse.

Minimal Battery Intrusion
The Soul EV offers plenty of space inside the cabin thanks to minimal battery intrusion.  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) versus 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 of 18.8 cu.-ft. (with rear seats up) is also unchanged from the internal combustion engine Soul, and the under-cargo tray provides convenient storage for the standard 120v portable charger.

Uniquely Designed Inside and Out
The Soul’s bold exterior design carries over to the EV.  From the “floating” roof to the greenhouse that makes the car look like it is wearing wraparound sunglasses, the EV’s look is inspired by the 2012 Kia Track’ster concept and retains the iconic square-shouldered broad stance of the original Soul.  Initially, the Soul EV will be offered in four color choices: Caribbean Blue lower body with Clear White roof, Shadow Black lower body with Inferno Red roof, Titanium Gray and Clear White.  The signature two-tone paint theme is exclusive to the EV and was inspired by a similar treatment seen on the Track’ster.  The EV-exclusive front fascia includes a larger grille area to accommodate the charging ports, and other unique exterior Soul EV design features include color accent trim in the front and rear fascias, projector headlights, LED positioning lamps, and LED tail lights.  “Eco Electric” fender badging replaces the “Soul” fender garnish found on the gasoline-powered car, and the Soul EV gets its own set of distinctive 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped with specially engineered Super Low Rolling Resistance (SLRR) tires that offer 10 percent less resistance than standard low rolling resistance tires, helping to improve range.

When launched in 2014, the all-new Soul was lauded for its premium interior and significantly reduced levels of NVH.  The Soul EV will be instantly recognizable for these same qualities.  Like its gasoline-powered sibling, a circular theme pervades the cabin and is a pleasing contrast to the exterior’s angular good looks.  Inside, the Soul EV sets itself apart from its gasoline-powered sibling with bright white accent trim on the center console, instrument panel and door panels, lending a light and modern feel to the passenger space.  Distinguished by Kia’s most extensive use of bio-based materials, the Soul EV has received UL’s first ever automotive environmental claim validation for its 52.7 lbs. 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.

The Soul EV features exclusive interior color options that perfectly complement the exterior.  Two interior seating materials will be offered:  Standard eco-friendly cloth or optional leather.  Both are two-tone gray with offsetting blue stitching on the cloth seats and blue or black (Shadow black model) piping on the leather seats.  Additional blue stitching (grey stitching on Shadow Black models) is found on the steering wheel and center console armrest.  piping blue stitching on the cloth or seating materials will be offered: Standard eco-friendly cloth or optional leather.

Standard Soul EV amenities include a Navigation with eight-inch screen, a 6.6kW on-board charger, CHAdeMO DC fast charge port, Rear Camera Display3, Bluetooth®4 hands free operation, power windows, power driver’s seat, cruise control, and an exclusive HVAC system designed to extend driving range by minimizing energy draw.

Air conditioning is one of the largest energy drains in any electric vehicle, but the Soul EV’s HVAC system is designed to provide optimum comfort while also helping to extend the car’s range by minimizing energy use.  The Soul EV uses four key technologies to maximize HVAC efficiency: a standard heat pump, individual ventilation, scheduled ventilation, and air intake control.  The heat pump efficiently combines the A/C and heater into one system while greatly reducing energy consumption. It also utilizes waste heat from the Soul EV’s electrical systems to help heat the cabin.  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.

Forward Thinking Technology
Available at no cost for the first five years of ownership, UVO EV Services5, a special version of Kia’s award-winning telematics and infotainment system, is put to even greater use in the Soul EV.  Utilizing an embedded connectivity solution powered by the Verizon network and an integral smartphone app, UVO EV Services provides owners with an innovative, real-time, in-vehicle connectivity experience that includes navigation and added convenience features specifically tailored for the Soul EV to help owners stay informed as to their vehicle’s charging status while on the go.  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.  At a glance, UVO will also update EV owners of their CO2 savings and their relative positive impact on the environment.

Introduced for the first time on the Soul EV, UVO EV Services includes downloadable apps that reside on the Soul EV’s standard 8-inch capacitive-touch navigation screen.  EV owners may download Yelp®6, the online urban city guide that helps people find cool places to eat, shop, relax and play.  Soul EV owners will also enjoy iHeartRadio, the free, all-in-one digital radio service that lets customers listen to their favorite live stations or create their own commercial-free, all-music custom stations.  Sound Hound, which is also available and accessible through the touch screen, listens to what’s playing and displays all related information such as lyrics, the artist, title and album cover art.

Arriving with a five-year complimentary subscription to SiriusXM™7 Data Services and Travel Link, the Soul EV has access to charging stations and travel information such as road conditions, weather and security alerts as well as sports scores, movie times and stock prices through the screen’s graphical interface and electronic program guide.

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 perfect for an electric-vehicle application.  Found within the Soul EV’s exclusive Supervision instrument cluster, the 3.5-inch OLED screen is crystal clear and 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 determine how much charge remains within the battery and when it’s time to plug in to a charging unit.

Of all the vehicles in Kia’s line-up, none are better suited for pure electric operation than the Soul. The 2015 Soul EV exceeds the capabilities of of most current EVs (Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, Chevy Spark EV, Fiat 500e, BMW i3, Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, Toyota RAV4 EV, etc.) with a range of 80 to 100 miles, recharging time (from fully depleted) of 24 hours on ordinary 120-volt household current, and five hours on a 240-volt charger.

The Soul EV has 3 charging ports: Two of the ports are for conventional AC charging, per SAE standard J1772, and the third for CHAdeMo public stations (CHAdeMo = CHArge de Move, a 480-volt direct current system which can recharge a battery in under 30 minutes).  The standard UVO navigation system finds public charging stations for you.

And Kia says it can reach an 80 percent charge in 33 minutes using a 50kW fast-charger system.  That’s nearly as good as a Tesla Supercharger, you just have to find one. Overall, it’s a very appealing package.

2015 Kia Soul EV interior

2015 Kia Soul EV interior

2015 Kia Soul EV center dasahboard

2015 Kia Soul EV center dasahboard

2015 Kia Soul EV instrument panel

2015 Kia Soul EV instrument panel

2015 Kia Soul EV cockpit

2015 Kia Soul EV cockpit

And Kia also just announced the pricing for the 2015 Soul EV:

2015 KIA SOUL EV PRICING ANNOUNCED

Starting MSRP of $33,7001(not including federal tax rebate of $7,500) with an expected introductory lease price2 of $249 per month makes all-new Soul EV a compelling offer for eco-conscious buyers

  •  The 2015 Soul EV is Kia’s first mass-market, all-electric, zero-emissions car and the centerpiece of the brand’s Clean Mobility program
  • Fully electrified variant retains Soul’s funky design while delivering best-in-class3 EPA-estimated driving range of 93 miles4

IRVINE, Calif., September 11, 2014 – Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced pricing for the all-electric version of its hugely popular urban passenger vehicle, the Kia Soul.  Offered in two trims, Base and + (Plus), the 2015 Soul EV MSRP will be $33,700 (not including federal tax rebate of $7,500) for the Base and $35,7001 for the Plus (not including federal tax rebate of $7,500). With an expected introductory lease price of $249 per month, the Soul EV boasts best-in-class EPA-estimated range of 93 miles and MPGe4 of 92 miles on the highway and 120 miles in the city (105 miles combined). The Soul EV has also been honored with an industry-first automotive environmental validation by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for its innovative use of bio-based materials.

“With our iconic urban passenger vehicle’s wildly popular style and functionality mated to eco-friendly electric-drive technology that delivers best-in-class range, we’re confident that the Soul EV represents a winning combination,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of sales and marketing, KMA.  “And with a starting MSRP of less than $34,000 (not including federal tax rebate of $7,500) and an expected introductory lease price of $249 per month, it represents a compelling value as well.”   

At $33,700 (not including federal tax rebate of $7,500), the Soul EV Base comes equipped with an array of standard features, including navigation, Rear Camera Display5, Bluetooth®6 hands free operation, power windows, cruise control, 6.6kW on-board charger and an exclusive HVAC system designed to extend driving range by minimizing energy draw.  Also, every Soul EV comes standard with UVO EV Services7, which provide real-time battery-level status, distance to empty, and the ability to search for nearby charging stations.  From the UVO EV smartphone app, owners can preset charging time and charging level ratios, as well as precondition the vehicle cabin with remote control of the HVAC presets.

The Soul EV Plus, priced at $35,700 (not including federal tax rebate of $7,500), adds EV-unique leather trimmed seats, which are tri-level heated and ventilated for front passengers, while the rear outboard seats are heated for added comfort.  The Plus also includes projection-style fog lamps and power-folding outside mirrors, rounding out the thoughtfully packaged, value-conscious electric vehicle offering.

I love this color combination: The 2015 Kia Soul EV in Cherry Black with Inferno Red trim/roof.

I love this color combination: The 2015 Kia Soul EV in Shadow Black with Inferno Red trim/roof.

At $249/month for 36 months, with $1,999 down, it’s a very tempting to make the Kia Soul my first EV. I’d keep one of my gas-powered cars for longer drives, but I could easily use this car every day of the week for nearly all of my in-town commuting, errand and recreational needs.

It’s still not a Tesla, but by the time the lease is up, hopefully the “affordable” $40,000 Tesla Model 3 will be available with a 200+ mile range and a much larger network of Superchargers to enable the big switch to full  EV transportation.

Finally, I have to thank Kia for producing a wonderful commercial for the Soul EV. I’ve seen shorter versions on TV, but this is the full-length video. I think it’s Super Bowl quality – high production values, great Maroon 5 soundtrack and that intangible “viral” vibe that is so hard to quantify or manufacture.

Is an EV right for you? Kia has prepared an infographic to help in your decision:

Kia_Soul-EV_Infographic

 

Chat  —  Posted: September 13, 2014 in Kia
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