The number of new cars registered in the UK hit a 12-year high in January, with electric vehicles taking a record share of the market, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The industry body had warned of a slowdown in the motor trade in 2017 because of the impact of the weak pound, but there was no sign of deceleration in the first monthly numbers of the year.
Drivers registered 174,564 cars in January, up 2.9% on last year, to reach the highest monthly level since 2005, the trade body said.
Alternative fuel vehicles, mainly electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, increased by a fifth to reach a record 4.2% share of new vehicle registrations, beating a previous high of 3.6% in November last year.
In April 2016, Jess Shanahan drove 2,500 miles across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in an electric car – through cities, villages, national parks and more. Here, Jess shares her experiences and encounters of driving Route 57, the Great British & Irish Road Trip.
Plug-in hybrid Optima is a practical, tax-efficient PHEV that undercuts rivals and fulfils its main remit well
What is it?
Kia’s first plug-in hybrid, complete with the credibility-stretching fuel economy and emissions figures we’ve come to expect from cars of this type. The Optima PHEV combines the efforts of a normally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 50kW electric motor to deliver a peak system output of 202bhp.
There will be more interest among company car drivers in the Optima’s price and CO2 figure. At £31,495 after the UK government’s £2500 plug-in incentive, it undercuts both the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Volkswagen Passat GTE, the VW by nearly £5000. The 9.8kW/h lithium ion polymer battery, which is located underneath the rear of the car, is powerful enough to deliver a claimed 33 miles of electric-only range, and because the official EUDC consumption test allows plug-ins to start with a full battery and finish with a depleted one, the Optima scores a 176.6mpg rating and 37g/km of CO2.
Getting anywhere close to those figures in the real world will mean lots of short journeys between charging stations, of course, and a little patience. Kia says the battery pack can be replenished from flat in three hours by a 240V domestic supply.
Although it is Kia’s first plug-in, the Optima PHEV is mechanically pretty much identical to the Hyundai Sonata PHEV already on sale in some markets. Like its sister, it uses a six-speed automatic gearbox rather than a CVT, with the electric motor effectively replacing the torque converter at low speeds. Thereafter it can either supplement the petrol engine or, in EV mode, power the car by itself at up to 75mph.
On 6th April 2016 Jess Shanahan set out from Plymouth on a 20 day journey across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland – finishing in Galway on 26th April.
The road trip, named Route 57 for its 57 ‘must see’ destinations along the way, included stops in cities, villages, forests, and national parks – documenting the journey with photos and video.
The route was designed by Jurys Inn Hotels, and driven in a Kia Soul EV supplied by DriveElectric, using electric car charging points (mapped out by ZapMap). The electric car saw the capital cities of four countries, was welcomed by 17 town and city mayors, stopped at motor museums, iconic landmarks, and drove through scenic landscapes including Dartmoor, the Brecon Beacons, the Lake District, The Cairngorms, Wicklow Mountains and more.
We can now supply the Kia Soul EV on PCP – further details below
We offer the Soul EV on 3 year PCP; this stands for Personal Contract Purchase and is currently the most popular way to buy a car because of its flexibility. You put down a low deposit, pay a monthly fee, and drive away a new carwith fuel included. At the end of the term you can choose to pay an optional lump sum and keep the car, or you can just give the car back and upgrade to the latest model.
It’s like a mobile phone contract, but with miles rather than minutes included.
The current price (from 26 May 2016) for 10,000 miles per year is £495 with a total of 10,000 miles of fuel (electricity) included.
Regarding range, Kia says:
Combined Driving Range: 132 miles (212 km). Please note that the homologated driving range quoted may not be fully representative of real world conditions.
We’d say this is optimistic, however the Soul does typically have a better range and more consistent range readout than most EVs. We suggest it has a range of 80-105 miles depending on ambient temperature and how you drive.
Coverage: We have bases and electric car suppliers in Milton Keynes, St Albans, London, Northampton, Bedford and Leicester allowing us to supply all around the Midlands (including London, Luton, Oxford, Rugby, Kettering, Coventry, Nottingham and Birmingham). However we can deliver all around the country – just contact us for details.
2,500 mile bucket list road trip is being driven for the first time this April.
The official ‘Route 57’ electric car will be hitting the road and heading through 57 must-see destinations across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The road trip runs from 6- 26 April, starting in Plymouth and ending in Galway, visiting villages, towns, and cities along the way.
Route 57 was designed as the UK and Ireland’s answer to US Route 66, by Jurys Inn Hotels who are supplying accommodation along the way, to the driver, motoring journalist Jess Shanahan. Jess will be doing the road trip in a KIA Soul EV supplied by electric car leasing company DriveElectric, and stopping at charging stations along the route, mapped out by ZapMap.
As well as promoting local tourism, the campaign’s use of an electric vehicle (EV) seeks to challenge common myths around electric cars. A recent survey by the AA (infographic available for use as long as credit with a link to source is given) shows that the ‘range’ of an EV is one of the top reasons why people are not buying electric cars. The Route 57 campaign will show that these perceptions do not match reality with today’s green car technology, and that an electric car can drive more than 2,580 miles across four countries.
Jess will be posting updates on the Route 57 website: www.route57.org.uk along with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – and taking driving music suggestions through the Twitter hashtag #route57, or adding them directly to the Route 57 Spotify playlist. Audiobook suggestions are also welcome – Jess will be fittingly listening to Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’ to begin with.
Hello, EV fans and interested parties! Trish, here. I know I’ve been pretty non-existent on this blog, but I’m finally chiming in to provide my thoughts on my new Soul EV. Further down, you’ll find Ty’s input as well, and a more technical analysis than I care to delve into.
I’m going to start this post off with a disclaimer: I’ve never been a fan of Kia. Moreover, I’ve always thought the Kia Soul was ugly as all get out and assumed that they were cheap and poorly made, and that I would never in a million years want one. So when Kia announced their new Soul EV, I was actually surprised to find myself liking what it had to offer; first, on a visual level, and then on a specs level.
And then I learned that they would only be offered in compliance states. In other words, not Washington. Sad trombone.
But then the 2016 Soul EV arrived, along with the announcement that it would be arriving at Washington Kia dealers this summer. And then they announced that the EV+ trim would be available with a “Sun & Fun Package,” which, most importantly, included a panoramic sunroof. And I was done for. Hook, line, and sinker: Kia reeled me in. On September 19th, we signed the lease papers at Smith Kia in Bellingham, and I drove my new titanium gray Soul EV+ with Sun & Fun Package home. Unfortunately, it was raining cats and dogs, so the sunroof needed to stay closed on her voyage home.
I’ve had many people in the EV community, most of whom have a Nissan LEAF, ask what I think about the car. After several months of driving it, I think I’m ready to share some of my feelings about it.
We had a Kia Soul EV on our long-term test fleet in 2015, but I gave it a swerve because I assumed it wouldn’t fit well with my travelling needs.
My journey is a 43-mile drive from Teddington down the M3 to Basingstoke. So although Kia claims a potential range of 132 miles for the Soul EV, and we saw a ‘real world’ 110 miles or so during urban driving, I wasn’t so confident I’d experience that during constant 70mph motorway trips.
I admit it – I was anxious about range. This is because I have no way of charging at home. My parking space is inconveniently placed; although the Soul EV can be slowly recharged via a household plug, I would have had to park in a flower bed and crush my cyclamen to get close enough to the socket.
Just before the Soul EV left Autocar, however, I needed to satisfy my curiosity and find out whether it could handle a dreary motorway commute with the same zeal that made it our go-to car for short urban trips.
None of that is a slight on the Soul EV, which proved perfectly amenable during my trip. This EV gets my car of the year vote because it put to bed some of my concerns about the viability of electric vehicles on longer motorway journeys.
One of our customers had a test drive in a Nissan Leaf and was very impressed with it. However, they had a daily commute at the comfortable limit of the Leaf’s range on a single charge, about 70 miles. I could see that that could be an issue in the winter months and so arranged a test drive of the Kia Soul EV as a comparison.
The Soul EV is an interesting design – clearly it is based on the fossil fuel Soul so does not have its own identity like a Leaf or a Renault ZOE. However, it is more than just an existing design with a new engine (like, arguably, the Volkswagen Golf and e-UP); it has a redesigned and strengthened floorplan (for the battery), new wing panels (since there’s no filler cap) and a modified nose (to house the charge port). So clearly Kia has invested considerable resources in getting the design right.
What is of particular interest is that Kia went straight for a market-leading big battery pack – a full 30.5 kWh (27 kWh usable) which compares very well with the Leaf’s 24 kWh (21.3 kWh usable). This means it has an official range on the NEDC test of 131 miles compared to the Leaf’s 124.
While that doesn’t seem to be a huge difference on paper, the feedback from many reviews of the Soul EV is that it consistently provides a longer real-world range than the Leaf (often above 100 miles). Furthermore, its range prediction readout is much more accurate and reliable.
Certainly that was my experience with it, driving it from London to Northampton and back over a couple of days. It gave a generous 90 or so miles predicted range, and then it seemed very nearly like it reduced the predicted range by about 1 mile for every mile driven. This is a very reassuring characteristic, arguably even better than the ZOE’s range prediction which is pretty good, and significantly better than the Leaf’s notorious ‘guessometer’.
The car itself is easy to drive – stable and comfortable, though perhaps not a very exciting or engaging drive. It has plenty of space inside and comfortable seats. It includes a large boot, though its space is compromised by a storage compartment underneath designed to hold the home charge cable and Type 1 charge cable.
Overall I was impressed with the Kia Soul EV and would recommend any potential EV owner to test drive one, particularly where longer than average range is important.