Kia plans to offer Soul electric car in U.S. next year

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 01, 2013 4:49 PM

DETROIT (Reuters) - Kia Motors Corp plans to sell an electric version of its second-generation Soul compact car in the United States next year, the Korean automaker's U.S. unit said on Tuesday.

Kia will start selling the Soul EV in 2014 in a handful of U.S. markets.

But before then, Kia will start selling an updated version of a gas-powered Soul this month.

The Soul EV marks Kia's first all-electric model aimed at the U.S. market, where electric car sales have fallen short of automakers' previous estimates, but are still rising.

The company shared few other details about the Soul EV, saying more information would be released at an upcoming U.S. auto show that a U.S.-based Kia spokesman declined to disclose.

The next major U.S. show will be held in late November in Los Angeles, where automakers traditionally show vehicles with advanced powertrains, like hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs.

The Soul EV adds a second "green" car to Kia's U.S. lineup after the hybrid version of the Optima sedan that it began offering in 2011.

During the first nine months of 2013, the Soul was Kia's No. 2 best-selling model after the Optima.

Soul sales have dropped 3 percent during that time, better than the 4.3 percent decline for Kia overall, but still short of the roughly 8 percent rise for the overall U.S. auto market.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)