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LA show: Kia Soul boxes on

Power plus: Kia surprised with its Soul EV when it announced a 150kW motor and 64kWh battery for the new-generation funky wagon – the same electric powertrain as the bigger e-Niro.

Kia Soul EV a chance for Australia, but rest of the range out in the cold

Kia logo29 Nov 2018

KIA’S all-new Soul EV is under consideration for Australia where it is increasingly likely to be the only version of the still-boxy new-generation small wagon to make it to Australia this time around.
 
Unveiled alongside conventional petrol-powered variants at the Los Angeles show today, the electric-powered Soul shares its 150kW/395Nm motor and 64kWh battery with the more upmarket e-Niro electric SUV that made its North American debut at the same show after being wheeled out at the recent Paris expo.
 
The e-Niro has already been confirmed for Australia where Kia hopes to have it in showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2019 as its first electrified vehicle.
 
The electric Soul is less certain, but could be an option, sitting below the Niro in the Kia EV pecking order.
 
GoAuto understands that Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) has not committed to the new third-generation Soul in any form, and with sales of the current model struggling to make 30 units a month, it is not rushing to sign up.
 
The electric version, however, is still a chance as one of three EV models promised by KMAu executives. With the e-Niro confirmed and the Soul EV a possibility, the third EV is expected to be an SUV larger than Niro.
 
Although the American media speculated that the electric version of the Soul would get the smaller of the e-Niro’s two batteries, the 34kWh unit, the Soul EV turned up at Los Angeles with the full-bore 64kWh pack and same 150kW motor.
 
Made from advanced lithium-ion polymer, the battery is liquid cooled and comes with a fast-charge capability that Kia claims can fill it to 80 per cent in 75 minutes.
 
On a conventional 240-volt home charger, a full charge takes 9.5 hours.
 
The American press release says official EPA range testing is yet to be completed, so said it would hold back that announcement until early 2019.
 
The 64kWh e-Niro supposedly covers 484km on a full charge, and even more on Europe’s WLPT test cycle.
 
The Soul EV gets some unique styling flair to set it apart from the latest conventional Soul variants that, in the United States, will be powered by a choice of normally aspirated 2.0-litre or 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engines.
 
For starters, it gets different front styling with a blanked-out grille and LED headlights that form a light bar “brow” the full width of the vehicle.
 
Front and rear bumpers are unique to the EV, along with special alloy wheels.
 
This new Soul is 56mm longer than before, at 4196mm, which makes it about 300mm shorter than the 4400mm Niro.
 
The Soul’s wheelbase has been stretched 30mm to create an extra 140 litres of cargo space accessed by a wider and lower tailgate.
 
In the US, the Soul is aimed primarily at young drivers, and this is evident in the latest generation’s mood lighting that Kia says has been “turned up to 11” with selectable ambiences that include Hey! Yo!, Party Time, Romance and Midnight City.
 
Made for the world in South Korean, the Soul – including the EV – is expected to go on sale in North America in the first half of 2019.
 
Australia? If the Soul EV comes, it will probably be in the first half of 2020.

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