By Ronan Glon
Thursday, Feb 6th, 2014 @ 11:40 am
Kia has unveiled its plug-in 2015 Soul EV at the 2014 Chicago Motor Show. Kia detailed the Soul EV last year, but annual Chicago show marks the electric's first public appearance.

Based on the second-generation Soul, the plug-in version of the hatchback separates itself form its gas-powered counterpart thanks to small differences such as EV-specific paint colors, emblems, 16-inch wheels and LED lighting elements. Minor changes have also been made to the car's interior.

The Soul EV is powered by an 81.4 kW electric motor good for 109 horsepower and 210 lb-ft. of torque. A single-speed constant ratio gear reduction unit will serve in place of a traditional transmission.

Backed by an air-cooled 27kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, Kia says the Soul EV should provide a real world driving range of 80-100 miles. Moreover, the Soul EV won't be especially poky by EV standards; Kia is quoting a sub 12-second 0-60 mph sprint. The Soul EV tops out at about 90mph.

The Soul EV should also be a decent handler. The EV's battery pack is mounted low in its chassis and addition bracing actually improves the hatchback's torsional rigidity by 5.9 percent.

On the charging front, Kia claims it will take 24 hours to charge a completely depleted battery from a standard 120-volt outlet. That charge time drops to under 5 hours when using a 240-volt outlet. When using a 50 kW-output charger, Kia says the Soul EV's battery can be charged to 80 percent in just 33 minutes.

In preparation for upcoming federal guidelines, Kia has equipped the Soul EV with a Virtual Engine Sound System - or VESS - that emits an audible noise below 12 mph or when the vehicle is in reverse to alert pedestrians of the approaching vehicle.

In addition to its green drivetrain, the Soul EV also boast an interior comprised largely of eco-friendly materials. Kia hasn't omitted creature comforts in the name of environmental friendliness, however, with navigation, UVO EV Services, a rear-view camera, Bluetooth, power driver's seat, power windows and cruise control all fitted as standard.

One neat option for the Soul EV is a heat pump that uses heat from the car's electric system to warm the cabin.

Soul EV buyers can choose between cloth and leather seating surfaces. Both are gray with blue accents.

The Soul EV will be offered in three distinct, two-tone color palettes: Pearl White lower body with Electronic Blue roof, Caribbean Blue lower body with Clear White roof, and Bright Silver with Clear White roof. All Soul EV models ride on 16-inch wheels wrapped in Super Low Rolling Resistant tires that help improve overall range.
Kia isn't ready to discuss Soul EV pricing, but that information is expected to be announced closer to the vehicle's launch.

Live images by Mark Elias.