After the success of the Soul EV in California surprised Kia’s executives, the company announced it will be changing – and expanding – which markets the vehicle will be available in next.
“We were kind of shocked how well it was received. It’s been a huge hit,” Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America told Autoblog Green.
Sales were “significantly more than what we originally planned for.”
The Soul EV has only been in the U.S. since last October, selling about 360 units in 2014. All sales were through 17 dealerships in California. The Soul EV is also available in Korea and will launch in Europe at an undetermined date.
After launching the car in California, Kia had originally said sales would expand to Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. But after the Soul EV’s success, Kia is shifting towards adding more markets.
“For the next stage, we were originally planning on hitting the east coast, but we are changing that around a little bit. You’ll see more availability,” said Hedrick.
He didn’t announce any details behind the plans. But another Kia executive says the expansion will depend on how many Soul EVs the company can build.
“The issue is actually getting enough cars,” EV Product Manager Steve Kosowski said in an interview with Charged.
“As soon as we can get the supply, we’re going to start selling the car outside of California. What we don’t want to do is starve our California dealers after they’ve already invested in chargers and tools and training.
“The Soul EV is the first electric car we’ve sold outside of Korea. So, we want to make sure that the quality is there, that the suppliers and the distributors and the dealers and everybody in the whole chain is ready and there are no problems.”
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Though February sales totaled 48 units, the market share for the Soul EV slipped down to 1.08-percent last month and is far below the hugely successful category leaders: Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf and BMW i3.
Even so, the Soul EV has enjoyed more good news beyond its sales numbers. A recent test of the vehicle’s range revealed that it can easily travel 125.3 miles, and may even have a range up to 140 miles. This is significantly higher than the EPA’s estimate of 93 miles.