Imagine being a motor vehicle owner at the dawn of the automobile age in
. You like the car and consider it the wave of
the future. America
But you’re asking: Where can I fuel it up?
And how to keep it in one piece, looking at the rutted minefields that passed for roads back then?
I’ve written a lot copy about electric vehicles and the accompanying infrastructure over the past 20 years, and let me say up front that EVs and their alternative-powered ilk are absolutely the wave of a glorious, diversified energy future in
elsewhere. Bravo to the automotive
engineers and technicians making it happen.
Bravo to those who turned ideas into hardware reality. California
But I was a nervous wreck after my week in the Soul EV. I can boil it down to one word: infrastructure.
In my little corner of the world – which includes a daily round-trip commute of about 30 miles – there is not enough quick-charge infrastructure to ease my mind with an EV in my hands. To be sure, there are quick-charge EV sites within fairly close range of where I live, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are plentiful outlets.
But in my commute loop, the infrastructure is not yet developed to the point where I can hook up and charge up conveniently.
And that left me with one option: Use the on-board, standard, plug-in charger. The owner’s manual on the Soul EV calls this a “trickle charge.”
And they aren’t kidding.
I received the vehicle with a range of 55 miles on it, and it was around 39 miles when I got home that night. An overnight charge brought it back up to 57. WOW! I was actually fortunate in that there was a standard plug on a light pole in my workplace parking lot. An uninterrupted, eight-hour charge, however, bought me only an additional 22 to 25 miles at a time..
Suffice it to say that my eyes stayed almost constantly glued to the mileage range readout when I was driving the Soul EV. It was an obsession…”Oh no, I lost another mile,” I would say in my head. “It didn’t seem like I was driving that fast.”
That’s another thing. I am not the only Soul EV driver who confessed to – I hate to say it – “driving like grandma” trying to conserve as much range as possible.
And that’s a shame, because the Soul EV that was totally redesigned last year is an otherwise enjoyable motor vehicle. With a sloped-back roofline, it looks ready to take off like a scalded cat at a moment’s notice. Interior comfort and controls are exceptional. Storage area is likewise impressive.
But if you’re a daily commuter, as I am, all other issues are crushed by the need to conserve energy … not a bad thing in the scheme of things, I suppose. And you do get help from the car, which charges the on-board battery under braking and coasting.
Kia computes the equivalent horsepower to 109, adding that the EPA-estimated miles per gallon gasoline equivalents are 92 miles on the highway and 120 mpg in the city.
As for me, even with an all-night charge, the biggest mileage range number I saw on the in-dash readout in my week with the Soul EV was 85.
More numbers: The price range on the Soul EVs two trim levels is about $33,500 to $36,000.
Bottom line: I like the car and the technology. And I’m sure my EV-driving grandchildren will, in the distant future, love driving incredibly evolved EVs with 300-mile ranges on roadways where getting a quick-charge boost will be as routine as stopping at a Starbucks.
I can envision their future, and I feel good about it. But as for me, where did you say the nearest charge point can be found?