The Pros and Cons of EV driving with the Kia Soul Eco Electric
Text and photos by Cor Steenstra
The Kia Soul is a modern, stylish vehicle delivering much more interior space than ever perceived from the cute and diminutive exterior design. It is a big car. In this electric version it still offer a lot of space. There has not obviously been a lot of practical space sacrificed for power train and battery packs.
The detailing distinguishing the EV Soul to the conventionally powered ones are nice and subtle, in this version. The older version were relying on this extra white roof combined with the blue exterior color, but that has thankfully been deemed a thing of the past. The closed grille hiding both charging connectors and the badging, together with the unique wheel designs are the only give-away that you’re driving this $33,000 clean car.
I name that price, since Tesla made a big deal of their new Model 3 priced at $34,000. For that money you will get a more unique design, clearly placed higher in the resale market value as well, and you will get a lot more range.
Range.., THAT and the recharging facilities are the biggest issues I have experienced with this Kia. Okay, I do not have a 220V power outlet in my garage, and for a one week loan I will not get one either. So at home I had to charge it up using the conventional 110V common in the US, which is slow. It did seem to charge faster than the Chevy Colt did, but it is still slow pickens.
So you tend to plan for that, right? The car came with a subscription card attached for ChargePoint, a series of charging stations spread out everywhere where the Kia could be re-charged. The locations for ChargePoint are visible both on the ChargePoint app as well as within the Kia Soul on the Navigation display. No problem…., right?
Heck yeah there are problems!! Big ones!!!! This is serious stuff that can make or break the whole EV market here.
First I plan a drive to downtown LA. There was a ChargePoint listed within 500 ft. of where I was due to be. That turned out not to be true. There was nothing there. Not even close. I found a ChargePoint 10 blocks away, 10 BLOCKS, which is far away, and even that one was on the 7th floor of a big parking garage, and nobody at the parking garage knew it was there. By the time I went to my event, 10BLOCKS further away, and came back from it, the slow charging ChargePoint had given me 19 miles in range.
Driving back from that in the middle of the night, towards Anaheim I was running out of power, so I looked around on the app and the map. All the chargePoint stations I did find were either behind closed police office buildings, closed office parking lots or nowhere to be found. In the end I slowly managed to make my way, really slowly, of fumes, to something in Costa Mesa where they had a fast charge thing. I had to pay for it though, and since it was already 5:30 in the morning, I only charged it for 9 miles, which cost me $9!!! $9!!!!!
Listed as well was that the local Kia dealership in Irvine had a free charging option for it’s Soul clients, so I drove there the next day, only to find that the 2 free ones were the really slow ones, where I would have to leave the car there for hours to get any charge. They did have a fast charging option, but that was a paid one, which would get me 80% charge in 30 minutes.., for $15!!!
I am sorry, but this is just really pathetic. THIS is enough to kill any enthusiasm for EV driving in anyone. What can be the purpose of this kind of nonsense?
So it didn’t end there. I decided to find out where exactly there was a usable ChargePoint charging station near me. I used both the app and the navigation system and was directed to a few businesses which had charging stations for ChargePoint, but ONLY for employees. I was also directed to quite a few private garages where people apperently had installed their own ChargePoint installation, or at least that is the impression that was given, since NONE were ACCESSIBLE!!! What company does such a lousy job at this?? Do they want to go bankrupt? Do they want people to not use EV’s?