By announcing earlier this month the start of volume production of its new all-electric Kia Soul EV for export sales, South Korean automaker Kia Motors (partly owned by the also South Korean Hyundai group) will be selling its first electric vehicle outside its home market this time.
Due to go on sale across Europe and North America later this year, Kia’s Soul EV is the brand's second-generation battery electric vehicle following the development and daily operations of the Ray EV fleet in Korea for the past three years.
Output & torque The 81.4 kW (equivalent to 110.7 ps, 109 bhp and 112 CV) electric motor generates an instantly available torque – as is generally the case in electric cars – of 285 Nm (210 lb-ft, 29 kg-m).
Transmission to the front wheels comes via a single speed constant ratio gear reduction unit, for a steady acceleration from rest to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 11.2 seconds (provisional), on the way to a top speed of 145 km/h (90 mph).
The Soul EV is already certified for Europe with a drive range of 212 km (131 miles).
To maximise the driving distance of the high-capacity lithium-ion polymer battery, the all-electric Kia Soul EV includes several energy-saving features such as:
- A new heat pump which exploits the wasted heat from the air-conditioning and electrical systems to improve the energy efficiency of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system and reduce the required energy consumption to heat up the cabin;
- An air intake control system, which helps reduce the use of the heating or air-conditioning while driving, by monitoring and controling the air flow and humidity levels in the cabin, to recycle the air that has already been heated or cooled by the HVAC system, while introducing the optimal amount of fresh air to the cabin. The system relies on a humidity sensor, temperature control and an intake actuator to monitor and control the in-flow of fresh air to the cabin;
- A new individual ventilation system, which reduces energy consumption by restricting ventilation and heating to the driver position only (activated via the ‘driver only’ button on the dashboard), completely shutting off heating and ventilation to the foot-well and dashboard ventilation on the passenger side, rather that merely closing the vents on the passenger's side while letting hot or cold air be simply diverted to other vents, keeping energy consumption the same;
- A regenerative braking system which converts a certain amount of the kinetic energy generated while the car is coasting and braking, into electric energy for the battery.
Battery The high-capacity 192-cell 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery (in eight modules), provides a high cell energy density of 200 Wh/kg.
Mounted beneath the cabin, the battery pack – fruit of a 3-year joint development program between Kia Motors and SK Innovation in Korea – helps in lowering the center of gravity to enhance ride and handling. It has improved thermal resistance to keep the cell secure from exposure to heat or fire by preventing the shrinking of the separator if the temperature of the cell increases beyond normal levels.
Kia indicates that the electrolyte additive used in the Soul EV should prevent the degradation of battery performance at both low and high temperatures.
The vehicle features a battery heating system, which warms-up the battery while the car is plugged into the grid, prior to use, to maintain optimum battery performance regardless of external temperature.
A special Scheduled Ventilation feature allows users to schedule the car’s heating system, through the Human-Machine Interface (HMI), to pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin 30 minutes before getting into the vehicle. As the system works while the car is plugged in, the cabin is cooled or heated during this time using power from the grid, keeping the battery energy reserves for the vehicle when it should start running.
Kia says that while the name lithium-ion battery refers to the battery type which uses a metal can as a packing material, lithium-ion polymer battery is the common name for the battery type which uses ‘pouch film’ as a packing material.
The South Korean brand enumerates amongst the advantages of a lithium-ion polymer battery (compared to normal lithium-ion batteries), a greater efficiency due to a simple cell structure (fewer parts), lower costs, increased safety and reliability (from better thermal diffusion and internal pressure control) and ease of manufacture in a variety of capacities and shapes.
Charging On the charging side, Kia indicates that the Soul EV can be plugged into any standard household electricity supply, with a recharging time of up to five hours for a fully depleted battery using a 6.6 kW AC slow charger.
However, additional chargers allow for an 80 percent charge within 25 minutes (with the 100 kW charger) or 33 minutes (50 kW DC charger).
The battery module is fitted with an overcharge protection device that cuts the high voltage circuit if the battery cell swelling phenomenon occurs due to overcharging.
Environment According to the automaker, the new Soul EV has "achieved the world automotive industry’s first UL Environment Validation for containing 23,942 grams of bio-based plastic and 10% bio-based organic carbon content. The recyclable interior materials include Bio Plastic, Bio Foam, Bio Fabric and Bio PET Felt, together with low volatile organic compounds and newly developed antibacterial materials and paint."