Kia shows electrifying display with two production models and concept all using battery power
Kia is seeming to get serious about electrification in their vehicle lineup. Today, at the Chicago Auto Show, the Korean company revealed their Niro Concept for the first time in North America. Along with the concept were two production models – the 2014 Optima Hybrid and 2015 Soul EV – which will soon be arriving on dealer lots.
First shown in Frankfurt last year, the Kia Niro concept brings a “rally raid-like” design to an urban lifestyle vehicle and also features a hybrid setup for on-demand four-wheel drive.
“Ten years ago people wanted understated style in the SUV market, but increasingly, as more people migrate to the B-segment, they are looking for strong character and individuality,” said Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer, Kia Design Center Europe.
“It may have the looks of a Dakar [Rally] contender, but Niro has a strong premium feel thanks to our innovative use of advanced and modern materials that mix brawn with spirit to deliver a playful vehicle ready to be part of anyone’s active lifestyle.”
Niro is said to be equipped with a turbocharged 1.6-litre ‘Gamma’ four-cylinder engine with 160 hp mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The internal combustion engine only serves the front wheels, while an electric hybrid system can engage the rear wheels with up to 45 hp on tap.
Joining Niro was an updated Optima Hybrid, sporting new front and rear fascias for increased aero performance, new wheels, and hybrid-only grille and lighting designs. Underneath it all, the Optima Hybrid is essentially the same car as the 2013 model, delivering 199 combined hp. However, enhancements made to the gasoline-powered Optima carry over to the hybrid model as Kia aims to be “more upscale” and offer additional “high-tech amenities”.
But, the real news is something we’ve known for quite some time. The Kia Soul EV will be arriving in the second half of this year in Canada. The electrified compact SUV will receive a 27kWh battery pack sending power to a 81.4 kW/109 hp electric motor with 210 lb-ft of torque. Kia expects the Soul EV to achieve a range somewhere between 130 and 160 kms.
Full Kia Soul EV press release below.
SOUL EV LIGHTS UP 2014 CHICAGO AUTO SHOW
Kia’s First Mass Market Electric Vehicle Makes World Debut in the Windy City
- New 2015 Kia Soul EV offers an expected 80-100 miles of range
- State-of-the-art 27kWh lithium polymer battery has 200 Wh/kg energy density
- EV-specific version of UVO eServices[i] includes downloadable apps, EV charger locations and more
CHICAGO, Feb. 6, 2014 – Set to the sounds of soulful electrified blues music, Kia Motors America (KMA) today hosted the global unveiling of the 2015 Soul EV at the Chicago Auto Show. Scheduled to go on sale in the third quarter of 2014, the Soul EV will be Kia’s first all-electric, zero-emissions car sold in the U.S. and expands the brand’s line of environmentally conscious vehicles. The Soul EV joined the refreshed 2014 Optima Hybrid on stage along with the Niro hybrid concept, illustrating Kia’s intent to lead the industry in providing technologically advanced vehicles that also reduce our dependency on non-renewable resources. Kia’s eco-friendly commitment was further underscored when Underwriters Laboratory (UL) honored the Soul EV with the organization’s first automotive environmental validation for its integration of more than 20 bio-friendly materials.
“The new Soul EV is at the forefront of Kia’s ‘Clean Mobility’ program and will offer an even more environmentally friendly option to our customers when it goes on sale later this year,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, KMA. “The Soul EV retains the fun and funky style as well as the packaging efficiency and utility that have made the gasoline-powered Soul such a huge hit with consumers. And to that winning combination it adds useable real-world range and multiple charging options, making it the perfect EV for everyone.”
The Soul EV will initially be sold in California and Oregon in the West and several Eastern states including New York, New Jersey and Maryland, the regions with the largest EV markets and infrastructure. KMA will look to offer the vehicle in other markets in the near future as infrastructure and demand grow. Pricing for the Soul EV will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch.
High Energy Density Battery and Usable Power
A top concern for EV buyers has commonly been range anxiety. The Soul EV addresses this issue by utilizing a highly energy-dense lithium-ion polymer battery. Located beneath the floor, the 27kWh, air-cooled, 200 watt-hour/kg battery is expected to yield a range of approximately 80-100 miles of real-world driving on a full charge, with internal testing and evaluation results exceeding 100 miles in some instances.
The 360 volt 96-cell lithium-ion polymer battery has been engineered for high capacity, thermal stability and safety. Accordingly, the battery features a nickel-cobalt-manganese cathode, which helps increase capacity, and a graphite-based anode, which increases durability while reducing weight. Additionally, the cells use a gel electrolyte, and each cell contains ceramic separators to significantly improve thermal stability and safety.
In an effort to maximize efficiency and range, the Soul EV uses Kia’s third-generation regenerative braking system to capture up to 12 percent of the car’s kinetic energy, which is fed back into the battery while the Soul EV is coasting and braking. Soul EV owners can choose between four different regeneration modes: “Drive” or “Brakes” modes in Eco-mode “Off,” and “Drive” or “Brakes” modes in Eco-mode “On” (the “Brakes” setting with Eco-mode “On” producing the most regeneration).
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 120-volt outlet and under five hours when plugged into a 240-volt outlet. An 80-percent charge can be achieved in as little as 33 minutes with a 50 kW-output charger. Kia has partnered with three charger providers – Bosch, Leviton and AeroVironment™ – which give Soul EV buyers an opportunity to select the unit best suited to their in-home needs. Additionally, Kia retailers who sell the Soul EV will offer charging at no cost to Soul EV owners, making charging even more convenient.
The front-wheel drive Soul EV is powered by an 81.4 kW, 109-hp electric motor, producing a generous 210 lb.-ft. of torque. The liquid-cooled AC synchronous permanent magnet motor uses multi-layer magnets to help improve efficiency and reduce the whine that’s commonly experienced with other electric vehicles. The motor delivers its power to the front wheels through a single-speed constant-ratio gear reduction unit. Acceleration from 0-60 mph is expected to take fewer than 12 seconds with a top speed electronically limited to approximately 90 mph. The battery’s location beneath the floor offers the stable feel of a lower center of gravity, which helps ride and handling and ensures that the EV remains true to the Soul’s fun-to-drive reputation. Additional cross bracing beneath the low-mounted battery contributes to a 5.9 percent improvement in torsional rigidity over the gasoline-powered Soul.
Improved aerodynamics and the absence of engine noise, combined with special sound-proofing materials, result in an exceptionally quiet ride. For the benefit of pedestrian safety, the Soul EV is equipped with a Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS) that emits an auditory alert at speeds below 12 mph and whenever the car is in reverse.
Minimal Battery Intrusion
The Soul EV offers plenty of space inside the cabin thanks to minimal battery intrusion. Because of the battery’s flat design and location beneath the floor, there is only a slight 3.1-inch reduction to rear seat leg room (from 39.1 to 36 inches) from the non-EV Soul, yet Soul EV still offers more rear seat leg room than other key EV competitors. Rear shoulder and hip room remain unchanged from the gasoline-powered Soul, making Soul EV one of the roomiest in the segment. Rear cargo space is minimally impacted (reduced 5.1 cu.-ft. to 19.1) as the space under the cargo floor is utilized for the battery cooling fan and storage of the standard 120v charger.
Uniquely Designed Inside and Out
The Soul’s bold exterior design is also found on the EV. From the “floating” roof to the greenhouse that makes the car look like it is wearing wraparound sunglasses, the EV’s look is inspired by the 2012 Kia Track’ster concept and retains the iconic square-shouldered broad stance of the original Soul. Initially, the Soul EV will be offered in three color choices: Pearl White lower body with Electronic Blue roof, Caribbean Blue lower body with Clear White roof, and Bright Silver with Clear White roof. The signature two-tone paint theme is exclusive to the EV and was inspired by a similar treatment seen on the Track’ster. The EV-exclusive front fascia utilizes a larger grille to accommodate the charging ports, and other unique exterior Soul EV design features include color accent trim in the front and rear fascias, projector headlights, LED positioning lamps, and LED tail lights. “Eco Electric” fender badging replaces the “Soul” fender garnish found on the gasoline-powered car, and the Soul EV gets its own set of distinctive 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped with specially engineered Super Low Rolling Resistance (SLRR) tires that offer 10 percent less resistance than standard low rolling resistance tires, helping to improve range.
When launched in 2014, the all-new Soul was lauded for its premium interior and significantly reduced levels of NVH. The Soul EV will be instantly recognizable for these same qualities. Like its gasoline-powered sibling, a circular theme pervades the cabin and is a pleasing contrast to the exterior’s angular good looks. Inside, the Soul EV sets itself further apart from its gasoline-powered sibling with bright white accent trim on the center console, instrument panel and door panels, lending a light and modern feel to the passenger space. Distinguished by Kia’s most extensive use of bio-based materials, the Soul EV has received UL’s first ever automotive environmental claim validation for its 10.9 lbs. of bio-based organic content in interior plastic. Front and center is the use of BTX-free paint on the audio system surround, vent bezel and the floor console. Bio-based plastics derived from cellulose and sugar cane are found in many places 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, making the Soul EV an electric-vehicle segment leader in eco-friendly material application. Separate from the bio-based content validation, extensive use of antibacterial materials also help to keep the cabin clean and are found on the gear selector, audio and HVAC controls, instrument panel switchgear and the floor-mounted center console. Combined, eco-friendly materials are used in 23 different interior parts, making the Soul EV an electric-vehicle segment leader in eco-friendly material application.
The Soul EV features exclusive interior color options that perfectly complement the exterior. Two interior seating materials will be offered: Standard eco-friendly cloth or optional leather. Both are gray with offsetting blue stitching on the cloth seats and blue piping on the leather seats. Additional blue stitching is found on the steering wheel and center console armrest.
Standard Soul EV amenities include navigation, Rear Camera Display, Bluetooth® hands free operation, power windows, power driver’s seat, cruise control, 6.6kW on-board charger and an exclusive HVAC system designed to extend driving range by minimizing energy draw.
Air conditioning is one of the largest energy drains in any electric vehicle, but the Soul EV’s HVAC system is designed to provide optimum comfort while also helping to extend the car’s range by minimizing energy use. The Soul EV uses four key technologies to maximize HVAC efficiency: an available heat pump (optional on Base, standard on “+”), individual ventilation, scheduled ventilation, and smart air induction control. The heat pump and surplus heat recovered from the Soul EV’s electrical systems help heat cabin air. Individual ventilation allows selection of “Driver Only,” which stops airflow to the passenger side front dash and floor vents and the floor vents for the rear passenger compartment, thereby focusing airflow on the driver and reducing the amount of time needed to reach a comfortable interior temperature. Scheduled ventilation reduces EV energy use by pre-heating or cooling the passenger compartment prior to starting the car, while it is still plugged into a charger. Air induction control regulates inner and outer air flow to minimize HVAC usage, regulating interior temperature by carefully managing recirculated cabin air.
Forward Thinking Technology
Available at no cost for the first five years of ownership, UVO EV Services, a special version of Kia’s award-winning telematics and infotainment system, is put to even greater use in the Soul EV. Utilizing an embedded connectivity solution powered by the Verizon network and an integral smartphone app, UVO EV Services provides owners with an innovative, real-time, in-vehicle connectivity experience that includes navigation and added convenience features specifically tailored for the Soul EV that will help owners stay informed as to their vehicle’s charging status while on the go. UVO EV Services provides real-time battery-level status, distance to empty, and the ability to search for nearby charging stations. Also, via the UVO EV app, owners can preset charging time and charging level ratios, as well as precondition the vehicle cabin with remote control of the HVAC presets. Preconditioning the vehicle moderates cabin temperature in advance, helping reduce battery draw once the Soul EV is uncoupled from the charging station. At a glance, UVO will also update EV owners of their CO2 savings and their relative positive impact on the environment.
Introduced for the first time on the Soul EV, UVO EV Services includes downloadable apps that reside on the Soul EV’s standard 8-inch capacitive-touch navigation screen. EV owners may download Yelp®[v], the online urban city guide that helps people find cool places to eat, shop, relax and play. Soul EV owners will also enjoy iHeartRadio, the free, all-in-one digital radio service that lets customers listen to their favorite live stations or create their own commercial-free, all-music custom stations. Sound Hound, which is also available and accessible through the touch screen, listens to what’s playing and displays all related information such as lyrics, the artist, title and album cover art.
Arriving with a five-year complimentary subscription to SiriusXM™[vi] Data Services and Travel Link, the Soul EV has access to charging stations and travel information such as road conditions, weather and security alerts as well as sports scores, movie times and stock prices through the screen’s graphical interface and electronic program guide.
The Soul EV also features Kia’s first use of Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology. Low energy consumption and virtually no heat build-up make OLED perfect for an electric-vehicle application. Found within the Soul EV’s exclusive Supervision instrument cluster, the 3.5-inch OLED screen is crystal clear and provides information on the vehicle’s energy flow, charging time, ECO driving level and energy economy, which measures how efficiently the battery is operating. Additionally, the OLED screen provides a three-stage alert for the Soul EV’s State of Charge (SOC), which allows the driver to quickly decipher how much charge remains within the battery and when it’s time to plug in to a charging unit.