2015 Kia Soul EV (1068)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2015 Kia Soul EV. Last week Merkel Weiss gave his thoughts about ALL Electric vehicle technology. Now I have tried to add my experience on the road for real.

Well! Where do I start? To begin with I love Kia as a car company and the other silver lining on an otherwise dark cloud noted below is that All-Electric has a place in the industry. That place is local transportation. So if you don’t travel long distances this is a fantastically cost effective car.

That being said when you drive this kind of car it gives you a whole new understanding of GREEN, which is way overrated in my opinion.

As to longer distance travel the technology and infrastructure is simply has not developed enough to make it a convenient mode of transportation. Necessarily you are dependent on rapid Charge Stations for extended range. I applaud car companies for trying but Kia says this EV has a 100 mile range and even if that were totally true here’s my tale of woe to explain a commute of 50 miles to my destination. It was great until I needed to return home. I had plugged in to the 110 Volt outlet while at work and 6 hours later I only had increased my range from 25 miles to 42 miles. Obviously not enough to get back home 50 miles away.

The closest charge station for a recharge was a Comfort Inn a quarter of a mile from my next stop at the bank. I thought this is great. But quickly my bubble was burst. The charge station was there, but no one knew anything about it except its location in the parking lot. I called the help phone number and they too were of little help. Now I’m getting frustrated. But it gets worse. I went to the department of Water and Power in Glendale 2 miles away. Surely the power company would know everything there is to know about electric vehicles. I asked 5 people around the facility and they didn’t even know where the charge station was. “Sparky” said, “I think it is on the lower level of the parking structure”. I couldn’t find it and gave up.

I decided to stay locally with a friend over night to recharge so I could get home the following day. On my way there, I noted Bristol Farms was listed as a charge station. I called and they had no idea if it even worked. The manager said it was installed many years ago and no one knew anything about it, but thought it was in the parking structure somewhere. Okay, I quit.

I plugged in at my friend’s house at 4 PM and by 7 AM the next morning it was charged to a range of 91 miles. Surely that would get me home right? Well I barely made it, with a range of 8 miles remaining which means at the rate the charge was being used I would only be able to travel another 4 miles to completely dead.

For what it’s worth, Tesla sells their all electric car for $70-110,000 and a neighbor who owns one says he cannot go from San Diego to LA on a full charge, or about 125 miles. He says they have a higher range option at a cost of $20-30,000. When gasoline began to drop in the past month or so, Tesla stock plummeted even faster. Surprise, surprise.

General Information: It is assembled in Korea, Classification is Midsize. Cars from Kia: Cadenza, Forte, Forte Koup, Forte5, K900, Optima, Rio, Rio 5-door, Sedona, Sorento, Soul, Soul EV and Sportage.

Handling & Performance:
Other than its quiet operation it handles the same as any other car. Power is good but the range is not. A ten to twenty-five mile commute would be just fine.

An issue that needs consideration is the long charge times required. I found it required 20 hours from complete empty to provide a 74 mile range. I couldn’t find a charge station with fast charge facilities but I’m told from company representatives a quick charge would take about a half to an hour. So a charge station is almost useless unless it has a quick charge capability.

My recommendation to Electric Car manufacturers is to list Quick Charge facilities on board since that would be the most useful for road trips. It takes under 10 minutes to refuel traditional gas powered cars and these days that is required every 3-400 miles. Until charging is as easy as filling your gas tank I have to believe consumers will reflect my experience and opt for a gas powered car.

Styling:
New age design and ‘cute’ as a neighbor saw it.

Fit and Finish:
Assembly is very good which is typical of Kia products

Cost:
Purchase price is a bit high at $35,000 as equipped. From my calculations and research of operating cost it would appear the cost to charge is about 15 cents per kw hour. This EV has storage for 27 kw hrs thus it would cost $4.05 for a complete charge. So as a comparison to a gas powered car that gets 25 mpg and gas cost say at $3.00 a gallon 100 miles would be about $12.00 or an $8 savings for this EV.

Conveniences and comfort:
Most of the conveniences we have become accustomed to in the 21st Century are available. However, I was afraid to turn on the heater since I didn’t want to chance being stranded somewhere on the highway. So I bundled up to keep from freezing in 30 degree temps at the time and headed out.

Charging can be via general household 110 V outlets but it also has a 6.6 kw on board charge port for those ‘quicker charge’ stations. (I didn’t find one). If every gas station were equipped with a “Quick Charge” facility it would be far more attractive.

Consumer Recommendations:
Include Kia in your car search, but consider seriously whether All Electric will work for you. Check out Charge facilities. My experience was not good.

It is clear to me that some gas powered cars as reported by the EPA get up to 47 miles per gallon so as these numbers grow the demand for all-electric will diminish even more and charge stations will be abandoned to make the experience even more troublesome.

Recognized Competition:
Kia Soul EV $36,000, Chevrolet Spark EV $28,000, Nissan Leaf $33,000, VW e-Golf $36,000, Mitsubishi i-MiEV $24,000, BMW i3 $46,000.

Good News:
It’s a Kia, nice styling and ride and all-electric benefits.

Bad News:
All-electric limitations.

Standard Equipment:
27 kw Hr Lithiam Ion Polymer Battery 109 horsepower 81.4 kWAC Synchronous Electric Motor, 6.6 kW on board charger port, DC fast charge port, regenerative braking system, 16” Alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child safety system, power ABS braking system, stability management and control system,tire pressure monitor, electronically powered A/C and heat pump HVAC,navigation with 8” display with UVO EV services listing, Sirius XM satellite radio, USB and AUX input jacks, Bluetooth wireless technology, energy usage monitor, leather seating, heated and ventilatted front seats, heated rear outboard seats, 60/40 split folding rear seats, push button start with smart key, tilt and telescopic steering column, park assist system front and rear sensors, rear cameral display, fog lights, heated power folding mirrors with turn indicators.

Gas Stats:
$2.49/ Gal avg. January 10, 2015
www.fueleconomy.gov
For more information.

Pricing:
MSRP $35,700.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
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