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New Kia Electric Car Debuts At Chicago Car Show

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Kia introduces the Soul EV at the Chicago Auto Show on February 6, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.  The show, which is oldest and largest in the nation, will be open to the public February 8 through February 17.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Kia introduces the Soul EV at the Chicago Auto Show on February 6, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. The show, which is oldest and largest in the nation, will be open to the public February 8 through February 17. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Kia is jumping into the electric vehicle market with a car it is debuting at the Chicago Auto Show as fun, and eco-conscious.

Because Chevy, Nissan and Fiat already market electrics, WBBM asked Kia Executive Vice President Michael Sprague where it will find its market niche. Sprague said the Soul EV is built to be more fun than its competitors:

“We continue to see more and more consumers looking for an eco-friendly vehicle,” he said. “The Soul has been a huge success already. It was great from a packaging standpoint, so now it gives consumers design and functionality in an EV, and that’s the thing we think has been missing from that space.”

That space won’t include Chicago for now. It will be marketed first in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. Sprague says when Chicago installs more charging ports, it will become a candidate.

Two charging ports will hide under the front of the Soul EV, similar to Nissan’s Leaf. On a standard 240-volt charge, Kia says it will take five hours to fully charge its battery. It also has a CHAdeMo port, which will require only 33 minutes to bring the battery to 80 per cent charged.

The 96 lithium-ion polymer cells will be located under the floor, lowering its center of gravity.

The Soul EV won’t beat cars off the line. It will require 12 seconds to go from zero to 60. Its range will average between 80 and 100 miles although it will offer enhanced braking regeneration to extend battery life.

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