• Kia Soul EV coming to market next year
  • Will offer all-electric drivetrain
  • Pricing unknown, but may be close to $35,000

Kia is putting the finishing touches on an all-electric version of its popular Soul hatchback. The Soul EV will arrive in 2014, likely as a 2015 model, and won't offer a range-extending gasoline engine like the Chevrolet Volt.

The Soul EV will be Kia's first U.S.-market foray into the electric car world. Currently, the brand also offers the midsize Optima Hybrid sedan. But since the Optima Hybrid has a gasoline engine, it never needs to be plugged in.

That won't be true of the Soul EV, which will offer an electric-only powertrain. While Kia hasn't announced many details about the upcoming hatchback, industry experts speculate the engine will come from the subcompact Kia Ray EV. That model, a hatchback offered only in Asia, uses an electric motor with a lithium-ion battery mounted on the floor.

Based on the Ray's capabilities, experts suggest an electric Soul could have a range of more than 100 miles and a top speed above 80 miles per hour. That would make it highly competitive with the fully electric Nissan Leaf, which has an EPA-certified range of around 75 miles and a top speed around 90 mph.

Of course, with electric technology also comes a big price premium. While the Leaf starts around $30,000, the Soul EV is expected to be closer to $35,000. That's a big number, considering a gas-powered Soul starts around $15,000 with shipping.

But shoppers interested in the fully electric Soul shouldn't be daunted by its base price. Many tax incentives are now available to make buying an electric car cheaper. And lease prices are often very reasonable thanks to those tax incentives and high projected resale values.

We'll have more information about the upcoming Soul EV as Kia announces it.

What it means to you: If you're searching for an electric car, the Kia Soul EV will soon provide a new alternative.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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