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Published on December 2nd, 2019 | by Jose Pontes

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My Kia Soul EV — Two Years On

December 2nd, 2019 by  


After two years with my Soul EV, and over 32,000 km (20,000 miles) later, the dream of having an EV is now just a good memory. The EV routine has become the new normal. The Kia has become the primary choice for driving, not only for commutes and daily errands, but also for some larger trips — up to 300 km (200 miles) — when fast-charging is available. That has left the fossil crossover relegated for that odd trip into the wilderness, or long travel where charging anxiety would be the norm.

Speaking of charging … the nightmare continues.

Because we can’t charge at home, we have to consider the public charging infrastructure, or lack thereof. With a fast charger just 7 km (4 miles) away from home, it became kind of like going to fill up the tank of a fossil car. Every time the charge meter gets close to red, we go there (preferably at night, when it’s less crowded). We charge until 80-ish percent charge, which takes some 20 minutes to do, and we take the time to have a coffee and a snack at the nearby coffee shop. Or, when the weather is good, we go running for some exercise around the area.

Of course, that is assuming the charger is working, which isn’t a given. On average, once a month, I have to resort to a Plan B option.

And what Plan B options are they?

  • Public slow charging (3.7 kW – yeah, I know, it sounds soooo 2011) in the nearest town of Santarém, some 25 km (16 mi) away. I go with my laptop and spend the day working at the shopping center, library, etc., until the car is charging;
  • The next fast charger, some 45 km (28 mi) away. When in need, I go for this option, but in this case the Kia goes into the red area of the charge meter and all sorts of blips, warning lights, and voices appear, warning me to charge the car ASAP. It is annoying, but sometimes we just don’t have a whole day to wait for the previous alternative;
  • There was one time when I had to think out of the box, as both fast chargers were down and the next morning I really needed the car, so I had to ask a shop close to my house if I could leave the Soul EV in their garage during the night and charge in a 220V schuko outlet. 

And with plug-ins growing at a 28% growth rate, now making up 5% of new car sales in Portugal, while the local charging infrastructure is barely improving, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the country’s charging infrastructure is becoming less and less adequate, with queues growing and offline periods increasing due to heavy use. So, “charging anxiety” is indeed becoming more prevalent here, as one needs to have a Plan B (and a C, and a D…) when one wants to make a larger trip.

Yeah, Yeah, enough with the whining, what about the battery? It’s air-cooled, isn’t it? By now it should be degrading, right? 

Actually … no. Regarding the battery, I do have some concerns, because of the heavy use of fast charging and the south of Portugal being really hot (summers can reach over 40°C/104°F). Because it isn’t liquid cooled, it could have started to degrade significantly during its 2nd summer. Fortunately, there is no noticeable degradation. In fact, after testing the battery, it has less than 1% of degradation, which is better than I expected. 

So, whenever I hear the fan working while charging, instead of becoming annoyed, I appreciate that it is keeping the battery from overheating.


What about the rest of the car, anything to report?

Not really. The last 2 years show a perfectly clean sheet. Nothing has broken during this period, with only the yearly change of air conditioner filters, a GPS update, and … nothing more that I can recall.

Reliability clean sheets were something I learned to appreciate in my former Hondas, and it seems this Kia is going the same way, with the added bonus of having much lower operational costs. And fuel costs. And no road tax.

Sure, in 2019, the 220 km (137 mi) range of the 30 kWh Kia Soul EV does look small, but if you can use fast charging, the car can do surprisingly long trips. I once did 500 km (312 mi) in one day.

What is not becoming passé is the space and utility of the car, as proved a few months ago when I drove it 250 km (156 mi) with one big flat-screen TV in the back along with some furniture and bags.

Regarding efficiency, it all depends on where you drive it. If you do a lot of high-speed motorway driving, then the brick-like design spoils the efficiency and you get something like 19 kWh/100 km (160 km / 100 miles of range), but on a regular urban/commute basis, 13 kWh (230 km/144 miles) aren’t hard to get, and even better efficiency is possible in mild weather conditions.

Two years and over €2,000 of savings later, we continue to appreciate the comfort, silence, and instant torque of the Soul EV, with the utility the icing on the cake. It is a great companion to run around in urban areas and do the occasional long trip. 

With the EV way of life being the new normal, when we use the fossil vehicle, there are a few things that now shock us. One of those is the price of fuel (Whaaat???? €50 for filling up the tank?!?!? What the …). Then, there’s the fact that using a manual gearbox in an urban environment becomes a pain in the rear, and surpassing other cars becomes something that you actually need to think about, instead of just slamming the accelerator and overtaking the other vehicle.

Oh, and it helps to save the planet, apparently… 
 
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About the Author

Always interested in the auto industry, particularly in electric cars, Jose has been overviewing the sales evolution of plug-ins through the EV Sales blog since 2012, allowing him to gain an expert view on where EVs are right now and where they are headed in the future. The EV Sales blog has become a go-to source for people interested in electric car sales around the world. Extending that work and expertise, Jose is now a partner in EV-Volumes and works with the European Alternative Fuels Observatory on EV sales matters.



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