2016 Kia Soul EV: Next to Tesla, It’s the Best One Out There

Kia gives us a take on the newest version of one of the best EVs on the market.

The 2016 Soul EV marks the second year of Kia’s first mass-market zero emissions, battery electric vehicle.  For 2016, the Soul EV is offered in three trims – Soul EV-e, Soul EV, Soul EV+ (plus) – up from two in 2015.  Offering a long list of standard equipment at a lower price point, the Soul EV-e brings new value for those looking for a fun and funky alternative in the EV segment.  The Soul EV+ continues as the range-topping trim, and is further enhanced for 2016 with the addition of the Sun & Fun Package.  Additional 2016 enhancements standard across the Soul EV lineup include a charge port nozzle lock, an illuminated Aux/USB port, and two new exterior colors:  Shadow Black and Bright Silver.

The new Soul EV-e provides versatility and affordability while offering a long list of standard equipment.  Eco-conscious drivers will appreciate standard features that include a DC fast charge port, 6.6-killowatt onboard charger, 3.5-inch OLED Supervision cluster, smart key with push button start and a driver-only ventilation function that closes the passenger vents to help maximize efficiency based on vehicle occupancy.  The Soul EV-e also includes heated front seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and FlexSteer™, as standard equipment.

The Soul EV trim carries over for 2016 with a number of standard premium features and content that adds to the Soul EV-e’s equipment list.  Front and center is the capacitive touch 8-inch navigation2 touchscreen with Rear Camera Display3 and UVO EV Services2, Kia’s suite of telematics technology that incorporates the ability to search for charging stations, remotely check the state-of-charge and precondition the vehicle’s interior temperature through the user’s Smartphone.  In addition, a heat pump HVAC system is standard, and helps improve energy efficiency to maximize driving range.



For 2016, the popular Soul EV+ (plus) is available with the new Sun & Fun Package, which includes a panoramic sunroof, LED interior lighting and speaker lights that pulse to the beats of the six-speaker audio system.  Additional standard EV+ features include ventilated front passenger seats, heated rear outboard seats, leather trimmed seats, front and rear Park Assist, and power folding mirrors.

Addressing range anxiety, the entire Soul EV lineup offers an EPA estimated range of 93 miles4 and an EPA MPGe of 92 miles highway and 120 miles city for a combined mileage of 105 miles4. This class-leading range originates from the Soul EV’s state-of-the-art 27kWh air-cooled, 200-watt-hour/kg Lithium Ion Polymer battery, located under the floor.

The Soul EV makes charging easy by plugging into any standard 120v outlet or a conventional 240v EV charger.  Two charging ports are standard, including a SAE J1772 port for Level 1 and Level 2 AC, and a CHAdeMO DC fast-charging port (480v).  Found behind a sliding door located in the front grille, the dual ports offer flexibility and increase the Soul EV’s go-anywhere appeal, making it more convenient to charge inside the owner’s garage or when on the road.  Recharging times vary from 24 hours for a fully depleted battery using a standard 120v outlet to under five hours when plugged into a 240v outlet.  An 80-percent charge can be achieved from empty in as little as 33 minutes with a 50 kW-output DC fast charger.  Kia has partnered with three charger providers – Bosch, Leviton and AeroVironment™ – which gives Soul EV buyers an opportunity to select the unit best suited to their in-home needs.

The Soul EV has been honored with an industry-first automotive environmental validation by Underwriters Laboratory (UL)5 for its innovative use of 52.7 lbs. of bio-based organic interior content.  Bio-based plastics derived from cellulose and sugar cane are found in many areas within the cabin, including the door panels, headliner, seat trim, roof pillars and carpeting.  In all, organic, bio-based materials are used in 19 different interior parts.



In news directly related to improving the ownership experience of the Kia Soul EV, Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc., (HATCI) and Mojo Mobility, Inc., a wireless power technology company, have been awarded a funding grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies (VT) program to research and develop a system capable of fast charging an electric vehicle wirelessly.  Mojo Mobility is known for developing highly efficient wireless charging systems capable of transferring high power without need for precise alignment between the charger and the vehicle.

“HATCI is honored to be selected as a partner with the DOE,” said Dr. Sung Hwan Cho, president, HATCI.  “Innovative technologies such as this align well with one of our core goals, which is to create a vehicle experience that is intuitive and easy for the consumer.”

The recent launch of the all-new 2015 Kia Soul EV, Kia’s first electric vehicle in the U.S. market, reflects the increasing prevalence of and demand for electro-mobility and its criticality to reducing petroleum consumption in the U.S. transportation sector.  Wireless charging technology has the potential to significantly enhance the convenience of electric vehicles – and thereby increase the appeal and acceptance among consumers – while possibly enabling smaller battery pack sizes and reduced vehicle weight.

HATCI and Mojo Mobility will develop, implement and demonstrate a wireless power transfer system on a test fleet of Kia Soul EVs over three phases, at HATCI in Superior Twp., Michigan, and Mojo Mobility in Santa Clara, California.

“We are delighted to partner with Kia and the U.S. DOE to bring the cutting-edge capabilities of our position-free wireless charging systems, which allow greater flexibility for vehicle alignment with the charging surface, to Kia Motors’ electric vehicles and accelerate their adoption and ease of use for consumers,” said Dr. Afshin Partovi, CEO and founder of Mojo Mobility.

During Phase One, the partnership developed a wireless power transfer system that has more than 85 percent grid-to-vehicle efficiency and is capable of transferring in excess of 10 kW to the vehicle for fast charging. The new system will allow misalignment between the energy transmitter on the ground and the energy receiver on the vehicle, making it easier and more convenient for day-to-day usage.  In Phase Two, the partnership collaborated to integrate a compact system optimized for the Soul EV and demonstrate full operation at a record 92 percent efficiency.  Real-world performance data will be gathered in the third and final phase of the project using five Kia Soul EVs and corresponding energy transmission units.  This final phase will test the systems’ durability, interoperability, safety, and performance.

KMA and Mojo Mobility have not yet announced when the system will be available for purchase.

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