The Kia Soul is an urban cross-over vehicle that sort of resembles an SUV, but is not as massive and is lower. Kia will make an electric version in 2014. This is an exciting move, considering the base price of the gas-powered Soul is about $14,400.
Details such as list price and range currently are scant, but it is known that the Soul EV will have an all-electric engine, meaning it is not a hybrid. About 85% of its materials will be designed to be recyclable when the vehicle has reached the end of its lifespan. So, no tailpipe emissions and recycling of materials equates to a smaller environmental footprint. More specific details will be announced at an auto show coming soon. (Some have speculated that it will be in Los Angeles.)
Cradle to grave design has been around for a long time, but it has not been implemented for many products. This kind of implementation would be dramatic enough to be called a sea change, if it were ever to happen on a large-scale. It is very exciting that soon American consumers will have such a vehicle available, and it is sure to generate some buzz.
Recycling is generally focused on personal consumer products such as paper, cans and bottles, but having a car that can be partially recycled should be an example to us all about reducing transportation impacts as well.
CUVs are a logical offshoot of SUVs, because they offer some of the same allure, but cost less and tend to get better gas mileage. A CUV is a good candidate for an electric engine and battery pack, because of the lower overall cost and better efficiency.
Tesla did a smart thing by deliberately designing desirable, impressive EVs. Kia is sort of following suit by making an electric Soul, because it is current in its styling and appeal. It makes more sense to convert an existing vehicle that is well-liked than to build an odd EV ‘nerdmobile’ from scratch.
Converting an existing vehicle should also help keep production costs down and therefore make the EV version more affordable than designing and making a whole different car.
If you are unfamiliar with the gas Soul, you can actually build your own with the Kia online tool.
The Kia Soul EV will be their second more eco-friendly car. The Optima hybrid gets about 36 mpg combined and costs $25,000 – $31,000 depending on options.