Kia Soul To Launch 2016 In US and EU

Today Kia announced it will this month begin building its first exported EV, the Soul EV, for a 2016 launch even as affiliate company Hyundai prepares its first fuel cell vehicle.

Soon enough also, say the companies, they’ll each offer battery and fuel-cell cars as they cautiously approach a changing automotive landscape.

Yes, it’s a Brave New World we may be heading to, but to avoid the phrase from Alduous Huxley’s book of the same title, that said “history is bunk,” we’ll note announcements made in November 2013 and February 2014 that the Soul EV would U.S. launch this year appear no longer true, although not mentioned by a news report from Korea today.

By 2016 also, both companies will offer both EVs and FCVs, said Senior Vice President Lee Ki-sang who heads eco-friendly divisions for Kia and Hyundai – which holds 34 percent of Kia.

“There is no clear direction about which eco-friendly cars will win. We are dividing the roles of Hyundai and Kia, with Hyundai launching fuel cell cars and Kia focusing on electric cars,” he said in a report by Automotive News.

“But the time will come when Kia will introduce a fuel-cell car. Hyundai is also preparing to launch a (battery-powered) electric car in 2016.”

Range is said to be 92 miles – not 120 as previously reported – and recharge times are 24-33 minutes for a “fast” charge, or four hours for a “slow” charge, says the company.

The vehicle was previously reported to have a 27-kwh battery, so to avoid confusion yet more, though not stated, these time estimates are almost certainly for DC quick charging on the fast end, and 240-volt level two charging is being called “slow” charging by the news report.

Really slow charging from 120-volt current in the wall would likely take far longer.

Acceleration from 0-60 is estimated at around 12 seconds.

Prices for the small all-electric SUV in Korea are on par with a gas version after big EV subsidies are subtracted out.

Subsidies can cut the $39,400 (42 million won) car’s price in half.

To date, sales of EVs in Korea have been but a trickle. Only 713 total units of the Kia Ray domestic EV, Renault SM3 EV and GM’s Spark EV were sold last year.

FCVs will have an even slower time of it as long as hydrogen stations are rare, and it has been said by those in the industry this slow-paced roll-out will be true in the U.S.

Of the U.S. market, it has often been observed proliferation of all-electric cars has been slow, and the controversial introduction of fuel cell vehicles has been so slow as to inspire jokes that they are vaporware ever on the horizon.

To date Kia has not had anything in the U.S., but not deterred by market conditions in the U.S., it and Hyundai will add their names to the major makers cautiously positioning for an electrified future.

Automotive News