The release of the Kia Soul EV (Electric Vehicle) in Oregon last month had us elated, and not just because we love our Kia brand. While many drivers have gotten behind the wheel of hybrids by now, totally electric cars are still very much on the rise. Electric vehicles made up under 1% of all car and trucks sold in the US last year, but EV sales grew by 23% from 2013. Electric cars are winning over more and more drivers every year for the same reason that we were so blown away by the Kia Soul EV: efficiency is only a small part of the EV driving experience.
When we got behind the wheel of the 2016 Soul EV, we were floored by the ease with which its electric motor accelerated to highway speeds. This phenomenon stems from one of the most basic differences between electric cars and everything else on the road: With virtually no exceptions, electric cars have no gears and a single-speed transmission.
This is not a compromise on the part of EV manufacturers. In fact, the very existence of gears and multiple-speed transmissions comes from compromises that allow internal combustion engines (ICEs) to operate safely. A multi-speed gearbox is designed to ensure that the ICE is functioning in a range that both maximizes efficiency and performance and prevents the engine from failing.
An electric vehicle simply doesn’t need that safeguard. Electric motors can safely go over 10,000 RPM without sacrificing anything in the way of efficiency and power. Conventional engines and transmissions can potentially get to higher maximum speeds than most electric cars; that’s a matter of horsepower. But the Soul EV’s dramatic zip comes not from horsepower, but from torque, which electric motors create with relative ease.
The 2016 Soul EV’s 210 pound-feet of torque put it in the neighborhood of the 2012 Porsche Cayman and the 2009 Tesla Roadster. While electric cars will continue to gain converts by saving money at the pump and putting a lighter load on the environment, their ultimate selling factor might be the fact that they are a downright delight to drive. The new Kia Soul EV is the embodiment of where electric cars are going, and we would love to show you one today!