If you were one of the lucky ducks to buy a 2015 Kia Soul EV in the USA, you’re even luckier now. Kia Motors America has just announced that it is beefing up its dealership-based DC fast-charging network with another 30 charging stations at 21 Kia Soul EV dealers in 4 states.
The Greenlots EV Charging Network
We’re especially excited because the rollout builds on the budding relationship between Kia Motors and the company Greenlots, which specializes in open-source networks that facilitate public EV charging.
Earlier this year, Greenlots embarked on a new head-exploding workplace EV charging demo project with Southern California Edison, designed to study how drivers respond to a discount for charging up at work.
Greenlots’s secret sauce is an open-source charging station management platform it calls SKY. The system is designed to be a turnkey, “future-proof” solution for sites that host EV charging stations, and it also enables utilities and host sites to collaborate on demand-response programs.
For those of you new to the topic, demand response is the “It Girl” of today’s grid management strategies. It involves providing carrot-and-stick motivation for electricity users to participate in efforts to shave down peak use.
Onwards & Upwards For The 2015 Kia Soul EV
Early word of a forthcoming 2015 Kia Soul EV was greeted with much enthusiasm last year, helped along by a crew of sexified dancing hamsters. A recent two-week test drive by our sister site Gas2.org confirms that all the excitement was justified. Here’s a snippet from the review:
Offering 210 lb-ft of torque, one can easily chirp the wheels zipping around a corner, and 0 to 30 MPH acceleration feels brisk, even if it really isn’t. It takes a full 10 seconds to reach 60 MPH, which is on the cusp of “really slow”, but I never really found the Soul EV wanting for more power. It merged effortlessly onto the highway, and it had enough oomph to pass at 75 MPH…
Last year, Kia also announced the first iteration of its DC fast-charging partnership with Greenlots. The new fast-charging option, designed to bring a battery from 0% to 80% in a little over half an hour, consisted of 17 new installations in California, several of which are located at Kia dealerships certified for the Soul EV.
The Greenlots end of the deal enabled Soul EV customers to access SKY and locate other DC fast-charging stations throughout California (there were already 198 fast-charge stations in California at the time Kia announced its addition of 17 stations).
In its second phase, Greenlots and its SKY network will support at least 30 additional charging stations at 21 dealers authorized to sell the Kia Soul EV in Texas, Georgia, Oregon, and Washington as well as California.
The aim is to offer Kia Soul EV drivers a “seamless experience,” which basically translates into the elimination of range anxiety. The Greenlots platform also enables Soul EV owners to gain interoperable access to participating EV charging networks through a “Kia ChargeUp Card.”
The locations include 12 in Washington State and 8 in Oregon, which will go toward buttressing the EV charging network along the West Coast Green Highway.
Aside from the benefits for Kia dealers and their Kia Soul EV customers, the collaboration will bump up Greenlots’s numbers. With the 30+ stations in hand, the Greenlots network will claim almost 33% of the North American DC fast charge market.
Look Out Texas, Here Comes The EV Revolution
In a happy coincidence, earlier this year Kia announced that the Soul EV will be available in Oregon, Washington, Texas, Georgia, and Hawaii as well as in its initial launch state of California.
Oregon and Washington are no-brainers, and Hawaii’s clean energy goals and high gas prices make it a logical site to target for a limited EV rollout.
If you’re wondering about Georgia, consider that this “red” state is already a host state for a US Department of Energy initiative called The EV Project, which is aimed at accelerating the EV charging infrastructure.
That leaves Texas, and we have to admit that we’re stumped, except to note that this iconic home of the American petroleum industry is absolutely swimming in more wind-generated electricity than it can use.
Here’s one clue — a recent driver’s review of the Soul EV in The Dallas Morning News left the reviewer absolutely giddy:
Actually, I’ve been driving a 2015 Kia Soul Electric Vehicle all week and I’m so full of electrons — or something — that I figure I must be transmitting a dozen different rays.
So, there’s that.
If you have any ideas about the selection of Texas as a rollout state for the 2015 Kia Soul EV, drop us a note in the comment thread.
Image courtesy of Kia Motors America.