Kia looks for buzz with first electric car

Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, the Soul EV will be going on sale in the U.S. and Europe in the autumn.

The Korean company already makes hybrid-powered cars but the Soul EV is Kia’s first mass-produced plug-in electric vehicle and in order for it to be a success, the brand is trying every technological trick in the book to extend the car’s usable range and ease of charging.

The regenerative braking system has been tweaked to capture as much as 12 percent of the car’s kinetic energy and push it back to the battery to increase range. And when the battery is running out of power, it can be charged from a standard household power socket or via a dedicated electric car charging point.

The battery is good for a realistic range of 80-100 miles (up to 160km) and if connected to a 50W-output charger can be topped up by 80 percent again in as little as 33 minutes. Otherwise, a full recharge from a standard household socket can take 24 hours or five hours when using a 240-volt outlet.

On the road, the car promises to be nippy and agile; the battery pack is in the floor for a lower center of gravity and better weight distribution. It can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in under 12 seconds and power to the wheels goes via a single-speed constant ratio gear reduction unit.

Initially, the car will be available in three color options — Pearl White with a blue roof; Caribbean Blue with a clear white roof; and Bright Silver with a white roof.