BERKELEY, CALIF. — Laggards rarely garner praise. But the foot-dragging way that Kia went about producing the 2015 Soul EV, the company’s first all-electric model in the United States, was a stroke of slacker genius.
The battery-powered Soul went on sale in California last week, its arrival trailing more than 20 other electric and plug-in hybrid cars that have been offered to American customers.
Unlike Nissan, for example, which made a multibillion-dollar all-in gamble on E.V.s, Kia held back, watching and carefully tallying the progress. More important, perhaps, Kia took note of the missteps of major automakers and the many stumbling E.V. start-ups as it readied battery-powered cars for the road.
Kia’s good decisions started with the choice of the Soul as a platform. It’s not only that the trademark groovy design of the gas-powered Soul is a proven success, on track for some 150,000 sales in 2014. And it’s not just that the hamsters in the ads are so cute, or that the Soul served as an appropriately modest limo for Pope Francis on his visit to South Korea in August.
What’s important is that for a relatively small car, the Soul can carry a hefty 27 kilowatt-hour load of batteries.
“We actually would have preferred a little bit more,” said Steve Kosowski, manager for long-range strategy at Kia Motors America. “But there’s no more room under there.”
Read more: NY Times