Kia is getting the (hamster) ball rolling on its first globally-marketed electric car.

The 2015 Kia Soul EV will be the first electric car made by Kia to be marketed outside Korea when it goes on sale next year.

Based on the recently-introduced, second-generation 2014 Soul tall wagon, the Soul EV will feature a 27-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack powering an electric motor that produces 81 kilowatts (109 horsepower) and 210 pound-feet of torque.

Kia says that will get its pre-production Soul EV test cars from 0 to 62 mph in "less than 12 seconds," and give them a top speed of around 90 mph.

Range is estimated at "more than 120 miles" per charge. Recharging will take about five hours from a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, or 25 minutes from a 100-kilowatt DC quick-charging station.

Kia did not specify whether the Soul EV will use the CHAdeMO quick-charging standard--which is used by the Nissan Leaf and the small number of Mitsubishi i-MiEVs on the road--or the CCS standard that is supported by American and German car makers.

Kia Soul EV badge

Kia Soul EV badge

To underscore the eco-friendly nature of the powertrain, Kia used recycled materials for the Soul EV's interior, including plastics, foam, and fabrics made from biological rather than petrochemical materials, as well as low-volatility organic compounds.

The Soul EV will also be equipped with a Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS) that emits an audio alert for at speeds below 12 mph. It serves the same function as the Pedestrian Alert Function offered in the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV.

Silent running may be the only way to distinguish a Soul EV from one its gasoline-powered siblings. Other than badges, model-specific 16-inch alloy wheels will be the only visual clue.

When it arrives in 2014, the Soul EV will be the first electric Kia Americans will be able to drive, but it's not the company's first attempt at an electric car.

The Kia Ray EV was introduced in Korea in 2011, based on a minicar normally powered by a 1.0-liter gasoline engine. Kia says it has applied lessons learned from that car to the Soul EV.

Kia hasn't discussed any anticipated production volumes for the Soul EV, which would let buyers understand whether it's a genuine mass-market item, or a "compliance car" only offered in areas with regulations that encourage or mandate zero-emission vehicles.

More details may be revealed at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show.


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