At this week’s 2010 Sao Paulo Auto Show in Brazil Kia has taken the wraps off its new Soul Flex hatchback, which the automaker claims is the first vehicle of its kind to be launched by a South Korean brand. The Kia Soul Flex, if you haven’t already guessed, is a fully flex-fuel capable vehicle, designed to run on a mix of ethanol and gasoline or exclusively on either fuel.

That’s right. The Kia Soul Flex can run on 100 percent ethanol or 100 percent gasoline or on any combination of the two. Unfortunately, for now, the vehicle is only being introduced in Brazil where ethanol based fuels are very popular.

Currently, Brazil is ranked second in the world in terms of ethanol production and consequently its motorists enjoy a low cost of the renewable fuel, which is priced at 40 percent less than gasoline. Flex fuel vehicles in Brazil also benefit from certain tax breaks, saving buyers even more.

On top of that, buyers of the Kia Soul Flex also benefit from a host of other advantages related to vehicles that run on ethanol. The Soul Flex boasts a 44 percent improvement in fuel efficiency compared with the existing 1.6-liter gasoline model, as well as more power and torque, with increases of 3.2 percent and 3.7 percent respectively.

Towards the end of the year Kia also plans to introduce a flex-fuel version of its Sportage SUV in Brazil and beyond that a U.S. launch may even occur.

Kia, together with its Hyundai partner, is quickly becoming a leader in the field of alternative vehicles. In addition to the recent introduction of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, as well as confirmation of a plug-in hybrid model by 2012, Kia and Hyundai are also investigating the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). In fact, in its home market Hyundai has already launched a hybrid vehicle that runs on LPG, which you can read about by clicking here.

[Kia]