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Why is Kia Soul EV Selling Under a Decimal Point Compared to LEAF

Kia Soul EV has the same price, better range and sells under a decimal point compared to Nissan LEAF.

"The Kia is a more spacious car, has slightly more equipment/features (cooled seats), and most importantly has at least 10% more (15%?) range, which is no small thing. Yet its sales are well under a decimal point compared to the LEAF. What's missing?" asks Anton Vahlman in Kia Soul EV Facebook group. Could the same model, offered for a few thousand less, increase the public acceptance significantly?

What follows are the responses from the discussion by Soul EV owners, who share their own views on Kia Soul EV vs Nissan LEAF.

Stacey Bahr writes that Kia isn't marketing the EV and it is only available in a few markets in California. "The Leaf has been on the market for 5 years and Nissan promotes it, so there is more consumer awareness."

John M. Glennie replies Soul EV is so spacious, it doesn't have nearly the cargo volume of the Nissan LEAF.

Paul Raszewski points to the long wait list and the lack of demo cars for people to test drive. He says very limited dealerships are allowed to sell or lease them.

Genevieve Marchand O'Meara says she reserved his Soul EV in Montreal in the September of 2014 and he still hasn't received it yet. "I have no idea the color it will be. The only think I know is that it will be fully equipped because I wish to have the ChaDeMo (fast charge)," O'Meara writes.

One other reason is the limited production. Kia, in a release, has said that it plans to increase the production of Soul EVs to 5,000 units. In fact, Nissan has the capacity to produce 250,000 LEAFs per year. However, I think if Kia sold more Soul EVs they would easily increase the production. During the months of January, February and March of 2015 Kia has sold only 180 Soul EVs. Nissan has sold 4085 LEAFs during the same period.

True, the LEAF is sold almost everywhere in the country, the Soul EV is only available in three metro areas in California right now, but even in California "the LEAF vastly out-sells the Kia Soul EV, not by double or triple, but by more like 10x. It's not a supply issue," writes Wahlman.

Steve Wanamaker has a reasonable point: "Most people don't even know the Soul is available in EV. The LEAF is a well-known vehicle and has been available for a few years now. Not at all surprising that the sales numbers have such a huge gap."

Production Volume
Few people commented about the low production volume of Kia Soul EV, despite still anemic sales. Erlend Stansberg writes that dealer availability is a big issue. "Here in Norway customers are waiting more than 6 months to get their cars. The dealers are frustrated about the very limited quantity of cars available. I guess the low production volume is a consequence of that Kia doesn't have enough belief in the EV market and that the Soul EV is a show off?"

Trial and Error?
Paul Raszewski writes that Kia and parent company Hyundai invested billions to develop their green lineup (Blue Line) with EV, PHEV, FCEV - all present in their current lineup. "I guess they are still learning how to market it properly. It's trial and error time. We just have to be patient. Following the launch of the Sonata PHEV the new Optima PHEV will follow shortly too," Raszewski writes.

"No one I have spoken with even knows the Soul EV exists. Nissan has done a nice job building awareness over the years. Got my loaded Soul EV+ lease for $2k down plus $288 per month at 3yr/36k mi, so it's not a lot more expensive than a loaded Leaf. BTW I think the Soul has about 25% more range than the Leaf when it is charged to 100%, replies another group member Deane Gardner.

2015 Kia Soul EV

  • Subcompact car
  • MSRP: From $33,700
  • MPG: 120 city / 92 highway
  • Range: 90 mi battery-only
  • Horsepower: 109 HP
  • Engine: Electric

2015 Nissan LEAF

  • Compact car
  • Overall NHTSA safety rating: 4 star
  • Range: 84 mi battery-only
  • MSRP: From $29,010
  • Battery: 24 kWh 360 V lithium-ion
  • Other model years: 2013, 2014

What is your opinion?


mike w (not verified)    May 9, 2015 - 8:37PM

Limited production volume is hurting the KIA Soul EV sales. We live in Northern Virginia and will be looking to replace our 2011 Leaf. We would be interested in a Kia Soul EV but they are not available in This part of the country. Another Leaf is out of the question based on our experiences with this car and Nissan. I was really hoping the Soul EV would go on sale here but the demand for this EV is quite high. The Soul has gotten very good reviews and comes well equipped.

Greg (not verified)    May 10, 2015 - 12:04AM

I ordered a Kia Soul EV from California and had it shipped to Phoenix a couple months ago. It replaced my Nissan Leaf. I wanted a new Leaf but it cost more than the Kia Soul EV because of reduced residual values on the lease. One California Kia dealer stated recently that they stopped shipping the Kia Soul EVs over a month ago amid strong consumer demand. Would be Kia Soul EV owners are now unable to buy them. Sales will surely fall off a cliff with no inventory. Although marketing could be better it is a supply problem first and foremost.

Didier (not verified)    May 24, 2015 - 8:35AM

In reply to by Jim Seko

Wrong. The RAV4 IS a compliance car, you can order it ONLY is some States of une USA. The Kia Soul EV is available all over the world. I am French, I live in Lyon, and I plan to buy a Soul EV, it is even available at my local dealer for test drives. There is no law forcing a car maker to have electric car in France, and we have electric cars from Renault, Nissan, BMW, Volkswagen, Kia, Mitsubishi, PSA, of course Tesla, etc. But no e-RAV4 since Toyota hates (full) electric cars.

D Link (not verified)    August 5, 2015 - 8:04PM

In reply to by Didier (not verified)

The Toyota RAV4-EV has ceased production, after Toyota failed to renew their deal with Tesla (fool cell bias?). That is unfortunate, because it is a good EV, plus was the only SUV EV until the Kia Soul.

ricegf (not verified)    May 10, 2015 - 7:34AM

I'm puzzled by the various claims in the article that the Soul has 10%, 15%, and even 25% more range than the Leaf. 84 miles to 90 miles looks suspiciously like 7% more range. Is the Soul's EPA number misreported? Are the European numbers comparatively more kind to the Soul?

I'm also curious as to whether the Kia has the same "gasoline car retrofit" feel that the Ford Focus Electric had when I test drove it, whereas the Leaf (which I eventually bought, and love) feels all-electric through and through. Can anyone who's owned both enlighten me?

Certainly Kia's unwillingness to actually build the Soul Electric in serious numbers makes it impossible to know how the market would shake out, which is unfortunate. Compliance car, indeed. :-(

mike w (not verified)    May 10, 2015 - 5:53PM

In reply to by ricegf (not verified)

ricegf. It's my understanding that the European and Japanese numbers are more "kind" to all cars. The mis-reported range for the Kia Soul EV probably comes from the giant gap between city and highway range. The Soul is not aerodynamic at all so its does really good range wise around town and poorly on the highway. The EPA rating would blend them together and you would see a number-range wise- close to the Leaf.

Greg (not verified)    May 10, 2015 - 9:10PM

In reply to by ricegf (not verified)

I also have a Ford Focus EV in addition to my Kia Soul EV. The Kia Soul EV rides like an SUV and has a spacious hatch back space versus the Focus EV. Kia put the batteries underneath like the Leaf whereas the Focus is in the hatchback area taking away precious cargo space. I believe Kia has 93 EPA miles versus the Leaf or about 10%. The reality is that in the Kia I can go about 105 miles on the odometer at 65mph with the AC on. In my Leaf I was able to get about 80 miles on the odometer under the same conditions. After one year that went down to 65 miles on my Leaf. The themal management on the Kia should preserve my battery better here in Phoenix.
Keep in mind that for every EV sold there is no maintenance for the dealer and replacement oem parts for the manufacturer down the road. EVs destroy the future revenue streams for the automotive industry. That is why plug in hybrids are far less painful for the automotive industry bc they still need maintenance and replacement parts. That is why there is such a mismatch between the high demand for EVs from the consumer and the lack of supply from automobile manufacturers. That is why you wont see a mass produced electric truck from industry for a while. It would give everything a truck owner wants - high torque at zero rpms and affordable fuel. What would happen if Duck Dynasty had featured an electric truck pulling houses off their foundation? They would learn something that they could never learn at their local dealer - that they could put green in their pocket by fueling up at home and have more power and torque than petro trucks.

Mike Loomis (not verified)    May 10, 2015 - 8:47AM

Is the Leaf a compact car? It is the same size as a regular Prius, which I thought was a mid size car.

In Cincinnati I see a lot of regular KIA Souls on the road. If Kia is only offering the Soul in a few markets in California they have no one to blame but themselves for their short sightedness. I wonder how big the ev market would be if car companies other than Nissan actually took it seriously?

mike w (not verified)    May 10, 2015 - 6:51PM

In reply to by Mike Loomis (not verified)

Yes I agree MIKE L. the EV market would be much bigger than it is today if more manufacturers took it seriously. Look at the other key player TESLA. Their car sell for $100K and they can't keep up with demand.

Jim H (not verified)    May 25, 2015 - 10:22AM

In reply to by mike w (not verified)

I don't think TESLA is in same ev market as Nissan. Nissan Leaf is ev for the masses, anyone who can afford regular gas car can opt for Nissan Leaf. However, Tesla is a car for the rich, and by that I mean that it makes no economic sense. Tesla cost far more than a cheap gasoline car to operate over it's lifetime, but then rich has always been able to afford custom, high end ev whether it's Tesla or some other luxury car brand.

Olivier C (not verified)    May 11, 2015 - 4:04PM

Kia soul ev is a excellent ev vehicle, i have one, and if i drive very safety i can have around ... 190 miles of autonomy.... Really !
Olivier from Quebec !