When Kia revealed its redesigned, Range Rover Sport-esque new Soul back in late 2018, it also confirmed plans to heavily upgrade its electric derivative. The improved Soul EV’s 243-mile range (EPA), ample interior space for a subcompact and idiosyncratic, luxo-lite looks made it a promising little EV—emphasis on the past tense, because Kia has reportedly backed down on bringing the electric Soul stateside.
Originally planned for launch in 2019 but delayed to 2020 and then 2021 due to a drivetrain component shortage, the Soul EV has according to Roadshow been entirely excised from Kia’s United States ambitions. The publication allegedly received word of the change from “a source inside Kia Motors America,” whose claims are corroborated by changes to Kia’s public-facing web presence. No more is the Soul EV displayed on Kia USA’s product list, and the electric variant is not listed on the Soul’s configuration page. Additionally, the 2020 Soul EV’s range estimate, formerly listed on the EPA’s FuelEconomy.gov database according to Roadshow, has been retracted.
When contacted by The Drive for a statement on its plans for the Soul EV, a Kia spokesperson had no developments to confirm.
“The Soul EV is not planned to be offered in the this market until 2021 at the earliest and Kia reserves the right to alter its product lineup at any time,” commented James Hope, Kia’s national manager for production communications. “Our focus remains on the Niro line of vehicles, which includes a hybrid, PHEV and EV and when we have more news to share on the Soul EV, we will do so.”
If Kia has backed down on the Soul EV as reported, it couldn’t be faulted for doing so in light of how the car market has changed these last two years. Introducing the Soul EV could cannibalize sales from the slightly larger Niro EV, with which the Soul shares a platform and drivetrain, and whose price the Soul might struggle to significantly undercut. America’s ever-shrinking subcompact segment is also a tougher place to launch an EV now that the Chevrolet Bolt has been upgraded, with 2020 models now touting a range of 259 miles (EPA) and a more masses-friendly Bolt EUV crossover expected soon. And while the COVID-19 economic slump has done ugly things to the global car business, the nail it hammered into the Soul EV’s coffin may have already been redundant.
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