Kia Motors Corp. is targeting selling 5,000 electric versions of Soul subcompact annually globally, with the United States being the EV's largest market. Kia will commence selling the Soul EV in the US in the second half of 2014, after starting its sales in South Korea on April 14. The Soul EV will be initially sold in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland.
According to Sim Hyun-sung, director of Hyundai Motor Group's eco-vehicle performance development group, the US will be the car's largest market because of the Soul EV's size, government incentives, and more exposure for EVs as prompted by stricter emissions standards.
Hyundai Motor Group, of which Kia is a part, is pursuing a two-prong strategy for its volume brands. While Kia will offer battery-powered EVs, Hyundai will launch hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Kia spokesman Michael Choo remarked that staggered approach to the technology launches allows them “not to put all [their] eggs in one basket."
He quipped that the approach is a way of testing each technology on a global scale. The Soul EV drivetrain was developed at Hyundai Motor Group's r&d center just outside of Seoul. The r&d center is also responsible for all the joint technologies for all Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
Almost all components of the Soul EV are developed in-house – its 81-kW motor, battery pack assembly, control systems and cooling technology.
The battery cell development is still outsourced from SK Innovation Co., a move that allows the group to play the field without overcommitting to a single supplier and technology, according to Sim.
He remarked that the group already has “well-developed, very competitive suppliers." Sim’s largest hurdle has been how to limit costs as well as how to maximize battery life. He remarked that they elected Soul as Kia’s EV nameplate since its boxy proportions allow them to optimize interior space.