Why can’t you buy a Kia Soul EV in the US?


  • The Kia Soul EV is an underrated electric vehicle that often stands in the shadow of its more popular sibling, the Kia Niro EV.
  • Despite its eccentric design, the Soul EV offers an efficient powertrain, a wallet-friendly price, and charm that makes it the perfect family EV.
  • Kia’s decision to focus the Niro EV on the US market was a strategic pivot that allowed the automaker to gain market share, while the Soul EV could dominate the European market.

Do you feel that older siblings receive less attention and praise than younger siblings? Although it’s not a universal phenomenon, it can get frustrating if you’re not the youngest in the family and you’re miles away from being the center of attention. But this question is not directed to you, dear reader. Instead, it’s for the Kia Soul EV. Yes, that subcompact electric crossover SUV with a personality bigger than its size, or you could say another promising electric vehicle that America missed (like the awesome 2023 Jeep Avenger and Mercedes EQA). Since Kia has built a reputation for making some of the most capable electric vehicles like the EV6, it’s a bit disappointing that the South Korean automaker has decided not to make a “more efficient” EV return in the US.

The phrase “underrated” by the world would be more appropriate when describing the Kia Soul EV. Despite its eccentric styling, efficient drivetrain, wallet-friendly price, and sweet charm as the perfect family EV, the Soul EV often stands in the shadow of its more popular sibling: the Kia Niro EV. And while it’s undeniable that the Niro EV has broader appeal as a budget SUV, it’s worth giving the Soul EV its well-deserved moment in the spotlight — especially in the US.

But why is it unable to gain traction in the world’s second-largest electric vehicle market? Does the Kia Soul EV suffer from drawbacks that make it unable to carve out a niche in the US electric vehicle market?

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First, let’s take a look at the history of the Kia Soul EV

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Based on the hugely popular petrol-powered Kia Soul, the electric version became the brand’s first electric vehicle to be sold globally when production began in 2014. At launch, the 2015 Kia Soul EV was the only electric vehicle in Europe to offer Its duration is seven years. 150,000 km warranty. Initially exclusive to California with its 109-hp electric motor and up to 93 miles of range, Kia Motors North America expanded its reach to other states by mid-2015. However, Kia Motors North America expanded availability to other states by Second quarter of 2015.

By the time the 2016 Kia Soul EV was introduced, both models were available for purchase in Washington and other states, starting at about $33,000. With competition in the US from the likes of the Tesla Model Europeans didn’t just like the Soul EV, they loved it. By early 2016, the first-generation Soul EV had surpassed global sales of 10,000 units (surprisingly, Germany emerged as its largest European buyer at the time).

2018-2019 Kia Soul EV models see an increase in battery capacity from 27 kWh to 30 kWh, extending range to 111 miles per charge. Although this modest range hasn’t been competitive in the US, especially against rivals like the Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt and Kia’s own Niro EV, in 2018 the South Korean automaker sold more Soul EVs in Europe than Combined petrol and diesel versions. Building on this momentum, Kia introduced the 2020 Soul EV in Europe with an impressive 280 miles of WLTP range, enhanced power and acceleration, and standard DC fast charging capability.

Marketed as the “e-Soul” in Europe, it shared its powertrain and battery pack with the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro EV. But scenes were different in the United States. Initially, the debut of the 2020 Kia Soul EV faced a delay of nearly a year. Although this delay wasn’t too concerning for those anticipating the new Kia Soul EV, Kia’s radio silence and emerging issues are starting to overshadow the expected debut of the next-generation Kia Soul EV. And then, word finally spread!

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Kia has ditched the Soul EV in favor of the larger Niro EV

Kia fans were understandably excited at the news of the automaker launching the new version of Kia’s electric car. After all, the redesigned 2020 model features a 64 kWh battery that provides a remarqable improvement 243 miles range (based on US EPA system). Combined with enhanced power, comfort, technology and a competitive price, this vehicle was the answer to the transportation needs of the modern family. However, it seems as if Kia has been indecisive about bringing the second-generation Soul EV to the United States. But if we’re being honest here, it doesn’t seem like abandoning the US market wasn’t part of Kia’s “grand plan” first.

You see, Kia initially intended to bring its Soul EV to the US in 2019. However, it delayed the launch to 2020 (which again seemed something out of the ordinary). However, it didn’t take long before Kia Motors America postponed (and later cancelled) the launch to 2021. This is because the automaker faced a difficult decision due to high demand for the e-Soul in Europe and a shortage of components, specifically electric motors and batteries. According to some speculation, supply issues combined with an expensive and complex rear suspension system were putting enormous pressure on Kia’s supply chain.

In overcoming these difficult challenges, Kia saw an opportunity. Cancel upcoming plans to sell Soul EVs in the US and focus entirely on the Niro EV. The reasoning behind this decision (although it disappointed many) made perfect sense. The Niro EV is slightly larger and has a traditional crossover look, which resonates with American consumers. In contrast, the Kia Soul EV is a compact electric car with an aesthetic that leans more toward a hatchback, which could be more attractive in the European market. A quick glance at the sales figures in both markets reinforces this sentiment.

Furthermore, the presence of the Niro EV offering a respectable 239 miles of range (the 2023 Niro EV offers a range of 253 miles) coupled with the lack of competition from Kia’s lineup has allowed the automaker to focus laser-focused on capturing U.S. EV market share . Meanwhile, the Soul EV, with its distinct European appeal, could dominate the exterior. For Kia, this strategic pivot had the potential to help the automaker strike gold on both fronts. And it seems to be working, given that Kia sold more than 71,602 of its electric models in Europe in 2022 (including the EV6, Soul EV and Niro EV).

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Does losing the Kia Soul EV make America less soulful?

Kia Soul 2023 blue
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If you ask any European or Canadian owner of the 2023 Kia Soul EV about their experience with the car, they will likely tell you that it is a very practical, comfortable and affordable all-electric SUV with an impressively efficient drivetrain. Even the base Urban model, with its smaller 39 kWh battery, is well suited for city driving. Its 134 horsepower combined with 291 pound-feet of instant torque, all packed into a curvaceous, boxy design, provides a fun and addictive driving experience. Opting for the larger 64 kWh battery in the Soul EV Explore model delivers a slightly stronger 201 horsepower with the same torque, allowing for a top speed of 104 mph. Given its size, the all-electric small SUV is easy to handle in tight urban environments, and its steering has been widely praised for its smoothness and precision.

Stepping into the funky-looking little Soul EV gives you a great first impression. It shows how simplicity can be practical and comfortable. From the 10.25-inch infotainment system to the logical dashboard, everything up front is intuitive. The seats offer many adjustable options, and the interior space is notable. The Explore model includes adjustable lumbar support and power adjustment for the driver’s seat. This trim level features a leather-wrapped finish, but even the base model features soft-touch materials. Whether we evaluate the Kia Soul EV inside or out, nothing feels boring or out of place.

While the Soul EV prototypes weren’t seen as particularly valuable given their limited range, especially when compared to rivals like the Nissan Leaf, the second-generation 2023 Kia Soul EV is a completely different proposition. It promises to ease range concerns with an official WLTP range of 280 miles and can charge from 10 to 80 percent in about 45 minutes using a 100-kW charger. However, it’s worth noting that opting for the 39 kWh battery pack reduces the range to 171 miles.

Kia Soul 2023 EV specifications

Kia Soul EV Urban Trim

Kia Soul EV Discover Model


AC permanent magnet synchronous motor

AC permanent magnet synchronous motor

Horse power

134 hp

201 hp


291 lb-ft of torque

291 lb-ft of torque

maximum speed

97 mph

104 mph


39 kWh

64 kWh


171 miles (WLTP)

280 miles (WLTP)

Now that you’re aware of what the 2023 Soul EV has to offer, one might wonder if American consumers are missing out on this highly practical and efficient small SUV. If we consider the price of the Kia Soul EV, it will be around $40,000 in the United States. However, since the EV tax credit is not available for the Kia EV6, the same will likely apply to the Soul EV.

However, it can still be one of the more affordable electric SUV options. Meanwhile, there’s the roughly $34,000 Chevrolet Equinox EV 2LT, which offers up to 300 miles of range and several additional features, making it a safer and more compelling option for discerning buyers. Additionally, with competitors like the 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 and Ford Mustang Mach-E in the mix, one can see that there are some very great options for American consumers.

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