Kia’s Electric Soul Expands the Electric Car Menu

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There’s been a recent spike in interest in electric vehicles going back a couple of years, when Nissan (NSANY.PK) released its Leaf compact, which really began to push the boundaries of mass-market EVs and made significant headway in defining what was possible for scale for electric cars. The Leaf continues to be one of the best-selling EVs on the road — and the best-selling pure EV by a long shot — but in an industry so young, there’s a lot of room for it to blow open.

Joining the Leaf is the Kia Soul EV, which recently made its debut at the Chicago Motor Show that opened on Thursday. From first impressions, its nothing completely unexpected: it’s most definitely a Kia Soul with few indications made to the outside to indicate that it doesn’t consume gas aside from a new front fascia and grill, and some cosmetic touches that differ from the internal combustion model.

Even after the Leaf has been on the market, the new Soul EV doesn’t offer anything game changing to the small but vibrant EV culture. Power comes from an 81 kWh motor, the speed is limited to 90 miles per hour, and Kia estimates its range to be around 80 to 100 miles. Power and torque are, not surprisingly, on the leaner side, at 109 horsepower and 210 pound-feet, respectively.

The interior has been largely left alone from the original model, though the batteries eat up 5.1 cubic feet of cargo space in the back. Bluetooth, navigation, a rear-view camera, cruise control, a power driver’s seat, LED positioning lamps, LED tail lamps, and 16-inch alloy wheels all come standard, so the Soul is a well-equipped creature. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but we’d expect it to be comparable with the Leaf.

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