Published on November 18th, 2018 |
by Jose Pontes
November 18th, 2018 by Jose Pontes
I’ve had my Soul EV for approximately a year now and have driven it for 21,000 km (13,000 miles). After the dream of having an EV being transformed into the daily routine, it’s time to look back and see the good, the bad and the unexpected of this journey.
After one year in our family, we can only say that we are loving it, with the Kia always being the preferred car to drive in our household, leaving our other vehicle, a fossil crossover, as a secondary choice that sometimes sits still for a week without any use.
Because we can’t charge at home, we have to rely on the public charging infrastructure, but with a fast charger just 7 km (4 miles) away from home, it really became a non-issue, as every time we run low on electricity, we go there and charge (preferably at night, when there is less probability of it being under use). We usually charge until 80-ish percent charge, which takes some 20 minutes, and we take that time to have a coffee and a snack at the nearby coffee shop.
Throughout this year, the top three questions people asked me about having the Soul EV as a daily driver are below.
• Don’t you have range anxiety?
Hardly. The key is to know the car’s limits and plan ahead. Every time you take a longer trip — say, over 80 km (50 miles) — you need to know how the charging infrastructure in the neighborhood is and whether you can count on it, in case of need.
• Is it reliable? I hear the batteries wear out with time…
In the 12 months I have had the car, the number of problems I have had with the Kia were one big round zero…None, nada, rien de rien. The regular car elements worked flawlessly, while the EV part of the Kia always performed well. Although, the same can’t be said regarding some of the chargers we tried.
Regarding the battery, I had some concerns, as the south of Portugal can be really hot (last summer we hit a record 46°C, or 115°F) and since the battery isn’t liquid cooled, it could have started to degrade significantly during the summer. Fortunately, after 21,000 km and one hot summer, there is no visible degradation. In fact, the last of the three times it reached the impossible NEDC range (250 km / 156 miles) was just three weeks ago. So, in practical terms, I can say I haven’t experienced any range degradation this year.
• It’s expensive, isn’t it?
Yes, the upfront cost is still higher than the regular ICE version, but because it’s a zero-emission vehicle, it has no registration tax (in Portugal, at least), which saves a few thousand euros already. I remember that a year ago, a diesel Soul with the same specs would have cost me €3,000 less. Add fuel savings (over €1,000), road tax (€170), and maintenance savings (€180), and I have recovered already some €1,400. So, I expect that in a little more than 2 years it will be already been profitable over the diesel Kia Soul. And I’m having much more fun on the way!
Also, as the years go by, the savings should increase, as EVs have fewer moving parts to replace. That’s why I think second-hand EVs are real bargains, not only because of the devaluation they’ve already suffered, but also because of the maintenance savings over their petrol/diesel competitors.
Sure, at this time, a 2017 Kia Soul EV isn’t the most cutting-edge electric car, and with a new and much-improved generation coming next year, I wouldn’t recommend you buy one new now (unless there’s a large discount involved, of course). But as a second-hand urban/commuter car, it is a great proposition, with plenty of comfort and space (mind the trunk, though). It is even capable of doing the random long trip if you make good use of the fast-charging stations on the way. (I once did 500 km / 310 miles in one day.)
Regarding efficiency, it all depends on where you drive it. If you do a lot of high-speed motorways, then the brick-like design spoils the efficiency and you get something like 19 kWh/100 km (160 km or 100 miles in total), but on a regular urban/commute basis, 13 kWh/100 km (230 km or 144 miles in total) aren’t hard to get, and even lower is possible in mild weather conditions.
Finally, these are a few of our favorite features that we got to enjoy over this past year of Kia Soul EV ownership:
• Reliable guess-o-meter. Compared to other EVs (ahem, Nissan Leaf), the range meter is actually quite reliable — not Tesla reliable, but pretty good nevertheless. It also helps that it is on the conservative side, so if it says “200 km,” it really means “203-ish.”
• Storage practicality. Transporting a big flat-screen TV? No problemo. Just fold the rear seats and you have a cargo-van-like space waiting for you. (If only the back seats folded at the same height as the trunk…)
• 8-inch center screen is simple to understand and has logical menus. I love that one can change them according to your own preferences.
• Practical-yet-quirky design. Who said cars couldn’t be practical (wide-opening doors, large windows, perfect seat height…) and fun?
• LEDs on sound columns. Okay, this is a gimmick that you rarely use after the first ownership months, but like Tesla’s “Santa Mode,” there are those select times when you feel bored on a long drive at night and you need something to cheer you up. At such a time, light up those LEDs on the columns and let them shine to the rhythm of salsa music, punk rock, or whatever floats your boat.
Long story short, this is a surprisingly comfortable city car with plenty of utility for people who run around in urban areas and do occasional long trips. For people who have these qualities high on their priorities list, I totally recommend it, as it is a great value-for-money proposition. The Kia Soul EV has the right mix of range, utility, and user comfort, in our opinion.
On the other hand, if you do a lot of highway driving or drive aggressively, then I would advise you have a look elsewhere.
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