Kia unveils Soul EV at Chicago Auto Show

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's second-largest carmaker, said Friday it unveiled its Soul electric vehicle (EV) for the first time at the Chicago Auto Show, highlighting its merger of superb driving characteristics and functionality while meeting rigorous environmental protection requirements.

The EV is based on the platform of its second-generation Soul boxy compact and uses an 81.4 kilowatt electric motor that can churn out a maximum 109 ponies and 29 kilogram force meters. It can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 12 seconds, which is roughly on par with the performance of the naturally aspirated gasoline-engine Soul.

The carmaker said the electricity-powered multi-purpose vehicle will reach consumers in South Korea in April, and the United States and other parts of the world in the second half of the year. Pricing for the car has not been released.

Kia said that by using high density 27 kilowatt hour lithium-ion energy cells, the car can travel 148 kilometers on a single charge. Recharging time varies from 25 minutes using a 100 kilowatt high-power charger and five hours using 240 volt power outlets.

In addition, engineers have been able to make the battery cells flat and placed them on the base of the car. This move helps with interior space and lowers the center of gravity of the car, improving handling and safety. The car has third-generation regenerative breaking that can recycle energy more efficiently.

"Since the Soul EV only runs on battery power, it emits no emissions, which will allow it to meet even the toughest existing environmental guidelines," the company said. It said there is no engine noise and this fact coupled with the aerodynamic design and generous use of sound absorbing materials makes the cabin very quiet.

It argued that the Soul EV compares favorably to such rivals as the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus EV and Volkswagen's e-Golf.

For amenities, Kia said the EV has individual ventilation for passengers, appointed ventilation that can allow cabin temperatures to be adjusted while the car is attached to the recharger, and air induction controls to more effectively operate the vehicles heating and air conditioning while on the move.

The car's recharger is located in the grill of the car that has both alternating and direct current ports.

The new eco-friendly car measures 4,140 millimeters long, 1,800 millimeters wide and 1,600 millimeters tall.

Kia said the Soul EV was awarded the world's first Environment Validation for Bio-based Organic Carbon Content in the automotive industry by a leading U.S. safety organization at the motor show. The recognition by Underwriters Laboratories showcases the extensive use of bio plastics, fabrics and foam in the vehicle, the company said.

Kia's choice of the Soul as its first globally marketed EV comes as no surprise since it sold 164,455 units of the car last year alone, with demand being particularly strong in the United States. U.S. consumers bought 101,706 first-generation Souls and 16,373 newer versions of the vehicle. The company's first EV is the Ray city car that is only sold in limited numbers in its home market.

Besides the Soul EV, Kia's Niro and GT4 Stinger concept cars as well as the Optima hybrid 500h sedan are on display at the exhibition.

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