By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
CHICAGO -- Finally, an electric vehicle with Soul.
Kia has electrified the Soul, its youthful crossover, to fill the role of its first plug-in, non-polluting vehicle. It was unveiled here today at the Chicago Auto Show.
The South Korean brand is taking its own unique approach to the electric car issue. Instead of lithium ion, it's battery is a lithium polymer. That gives it better thermal management and allows it to be packaged more compactly in the Soul, says Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motor America.
The Soul was chosen as the vehicle to electrify because it's a popular mainstream vehicle that could generate more sales than a special electric model that no one has seen before, he said.
Kia is a bit of a latecomer to the all-electric sweepstakes. California and other states require automakers to sell non-polluting cars as part of their lineup. Most other automakers have already come up with entrants. It will be up for sale and lease, but no pricing has been announced.
Soul may be behind the others, but it comes to market with a strong following among younger customers who are more likely to buy an EV. To make it even more eco-friendly, Kia says it packed it with 20 bio-friendly materials.
It is expected to have a range of 80 to 100 miles per charge. Soul EV is powered by an 109-horsepower electric motor,
For the moment, Kia is limited sale mostly to the states that have non-pollution mandates -- California, Washington state and Oregon in starting in the spring. Then will come New York, New Jersey, Maryland and few others starting next year. Kia says it will consider offering it in other states in the future.
Soul EV "is a global car that will be sold...throughout the world," he says.
Soul EV may be for frugal drivers, but it will come with some amenities. They include navigation, backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free operation, power windows, power driver's seat, cruise control and a 6.6kW on-board charger.