Chicago Auto Show: Kia Soul EV

February 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

kia soul evComing to the UK late this year, the Soul EV is said to offer a ‘realistic range’ of 80-100 miles, though it has achieved a longer range during Kia’s internal testing. Its 27kWh, 360-volt, 96-cell lithium-ion polymer battery is mounted under-floor,  and is supplemented by four-mode regenerative braking said to recapture up to 12% of kinetic energy. It’ll plug into any standard 120v outlet or conventional 240v charger, and has two charging points, one for Level 1/Level 2 AC and another which is (fast-charger) CHAdeMo DC 480v-compatible. Full recharging takes under five hours from 240v, 24 hours at 120v, but an 80% charge takes from 33min.

Power’s from a 109hp, 81kW motor which gives 210lb ft of torque, with single-speed transmission to the front wheels; 0-60mph comes up in less than 12 seconds, though top speed’s limited to 90mph. It’s mechanically otherwise similar to the conventional ICE Souls, bar additional cross-bracing under the battery (said to give improved torsional rigidity over the standard models) – and the addition of a sound-alert (below 12mph and when in reverse) to warn pedestrians. There’s a minor loss of three inches of rear-seat legroom to accommodate the battery and boot space is down a little to make space under-floor for the battery cooling fan and to carry the 120v charger. Minor design tweaks include a larger grille to fit the charging points, special trim in the front and rear panels, projector headlights and LED lamps and taillights, plus unique 16-inch alloys with low rolling-resistance tyres.

  • A round-up of car-sharing news at Automotive News Europe. A Ford spokesman reckons there’s been ‘a breakthrough in acceptance’, BMW is seeing mainstream users joining the typically male, tech-head early-adopters; consumer awareness has ‘snowballed’ and the outlook for 2014 is promising, say consultants. They advise car companies to ‘see themselves as tech groups’, however – it’s all about the service rather than the product itself – and that they ‘should try to own some part of the information technology solutions they provide’. And the data generated, presumably (related to this, at the Guardian Sustainable Business blog: why big data will have a big impact on sustainability). Profitability is less the point in the immediate future than having a long-term plan, involving the chance to familiarise younger drivers with their products. This advice could just as easily apply to EV-makers, of course.
  • Nissan sold 230 Leaf EVs in the UK in January; this makes it Britain’s best-selling EV, accounting for nearly three-quarters of the all-electric vehicles sold last month. Nissan has now sold 3000 in the UK – and 100,000 worldwide.
  • Some interesting comments about hydrogen refuelling infrastructure from Toyota senior VP for Automotive Operations Bob Carter; speaking to motoring media in the Midwest, he said that only 1500 fuel stations would be needed in California to support fuel cell vehicles, if their locations were optimised. That compares to the current 10,000-odd. Full text of his speech posted at Autoblog Green; earlier speech from him about hydrogen here. His numbers are based on research by UC, Irvine.
  • Ssangyong is to reveal a compact SUV (B-sector) concept at the Geneva Motor Show next month; the XLV has a ‘mild’ hybrid system combining a 1.6-litre diesel engine, e-motor and lithium-ion battery. Yet despite  its dimensions – 4.4m long – it’s a seven-seater with three rows of seats plus an extra one which slides between the second and third row.
  • The US Department of Energy is putting up $30million for research into solar energy storage and conversion (with relevance to solar-fuelling EVs from domestic PV, etc). More here.
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