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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Kia due in 2015

The carmaker is developing a portfolio of electrically-powered vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric models, but sees hydrogen fuel cells as its eventual goal with mass production expected to begin in 2020 once the refuelling infrastructure has expanded.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology is being shared with Hyundai, which recently began series production of 1,000 ix35 FCEVs now being leased to fleets across Europe.

For now, though, Kia is preparing to launch its first electric vehicle sold outside Korea. The Soul EV will go on sale globally in the second half of 2014 and a version is being developed for European customers.

This offers a LEAF-rivalling 109bhp and a range of over 124 miles on a single charge, but will be available with either a new Combined Charging Standard plug in Europe, or CHAdeMo plug for Asian markets, allowing a full charge in 25 minutes.

Kia has yet to show what the production version will look like, revealing only that it will feature an aerodynamic blade-style alloy wheel design and wider use of recycled materials in the cabin. It also features the carmaker’s latest battery technology, with a claimed 40% higher energy density than the LEAF’s.

However, volumes are expected to be very small as Kia investigates demand. Just 30 Soul EVs will be brought to the UK at the end of next year, and the carmaker has yet to decide whether it will offer a leasing option for the batteries in the UK.

Thomas Oh, executive vice president and COO, Kia Motors Corporation, said: ‘The new Soul EV will be at the forefront of Kia’s new "Clean Mobility" program to provide environmentally-friendly transport to our customers around the world when it goes on sale globally next year.

‘Although it is Kia’s first globally-sold all-electric vehicle, the Soul EV is our second-generation battery electric vehicle and significantly benefits from our in-depth experience gained from development of the Ray EV and proven daily operations of the Ray EV fleet for the past three years.’

Alex Grant

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