Don’t call it a compliance car. Like every other electric vehicle coming to the U.S, the Soul EV touched down first in California, but Kia is showing it has much bigger designs for its funky green car. Now with several awards under its belt and the automaker expanding availability to another five U.S. markets, Kia is riding a wave of success that no one quite predicted for the Soul EV, its rising star in a hot segment.
Green car awards
When the Soul EV debuted in September 2014, we wondered whether it represented the best electric vehicle value on the market with its 120 miles per gallon rating in city driving and its reasonable sticker price ($33,700) compared to the competition. Industry cost-of-ownership analyses suggest it is. In March, Vincentric named the electric Soul the “Best Value in America” in the plug-in category for 2015.
That award came on the heels of the Soul EV winning Canada’s Green Car of the Year at the Vancouver Auto Show, where 70 automotive journalists endorsed it as the strongest plug-in entry for 2015. It scored high marks for its standard equipment and range, which city drivers have seen exceeding 130 miles on a full charge. (The EPA ranks the Soul at 93 miles of electric range.)
Award season is not over yet, either: The Soul EV is a finalist for World Green Car to be announced at the New York Auto Show.
Soul EV in 5 more states
Automakers tip their hand when they reveal where they will sell an electric vehicle on the U.S. market. To gain credits to sell less efficient cars in California, manufacturers produce EVs in small volumes and sell them in California, and maybe Oregon, too (see: Fiat 500e, Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV). Kia is heading the other way with an announcement it will sell the electric Soul in five more states this year.
Georgia, Texas, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon will have the electric Kia heading to state dealerships in the coming months, according to a March 25 statement by the automaker. Kia executives have said this car would be the centerpiece of its “Clean Mobility” campaign on several occasions, and now the automaker is making good on its claim. Kia sees electric vehicles as a central part of the brand’s continued growth.
Adding Texas, Hawaii, and Georgia — states rarely named in an EV release — shows the sales department has done its homework. Georgia and Hawaii rank near the top in both EV market share and available charging stations for drivers on the move.
Even though Kia officials saw their green halo car as much more than a compliance prop from the get-go, the automaker has been taken aback by Americans’ reception to the Soul EV. As the company continues to advance its brand recognition and increase sales in the U.S., it has a strong entry in the EV segment that looks ready to make its move on the national stage.