I believe that the technology exists right now to produce an electric vehicle that could silence the critics and sell by the hundreds of thousands.
I think that the Kia Soul EV comes the closest yet to an electric vehicle that could be a best seller, but there is still room for improvement.
What I like about the Kia Soul EV:
- Seats 5: There have been a few times where I could not take my Mitsubishi i EV because we needed one more seat. Five seats would be a benefit for many potential buyers.
Longer Range: The published range of the Kia Soul EV is 93 miles. A 27kWh battery helps increase the range.
Efficient Heating: The Kia Soul EV has an electric heat pump that uses the waste heat of the electrical system. It also has a humidity sensor to control the heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The Kia Soul EV also has a "driver only" mode for heating and cooling, and features both heated and ventilated seats.
Price: The manufacturers list price of the Kia Soul EV is $33,700.00 before any tax incentives.
Scheduled Ventilation: Pre-heating or cooling the car while it is still plugged in. It is so nice getting in a nice warm car in the winter.
On-Board 6.6kW Charger: A 6.6kW on-board charger allows for the fastest Level 2 charging and the Kia Soul EV can fully charge in less than 5 hours.
CHAdeMo DC Fast Charging: I have used DC fast charging with my Mitsubishi many times, even though there are only two CHAdeMo DC fast chargers in New Jersey. A quick 5 to 15 minute charge is all you really need in a pinch to greatly extend your range.
Cargo Space: The Kia Soul EV has 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up.
Zippy: The Kia Soul EV has 210 pound-feet of torque.
What improvements I think would lead to greater sales:
- Published 100 Mile Range: I believe that a 100 mile range is easily obtainable with a more aerodynamic design. The Kia Soul EV has a Cd (drag coefficient) of 0.38 mostly due to its blockish front design. The Prius has a Cd of 0.25 and the Tesla Model S has a Cd of 0.24. The aerodynamics of the Kia Soul are not optimal since it is an electrified version of a gas vehicle. An electric vehicle designed from the ground up could have a much lower drag coefficient. There is definitely room for improvement.
Fun to Drive: The Mitsubishi i EV is a gas to drive (pardon the pun). The combination of on demand torque and rear wheel drive makes driving a pleasure. After driving many front and rear wheel drive vehicles through the years, I'm convinced that rear wheel drive vehicles are the most fun to drive. On demand torque is the most important aspect of an electric vehicle, and to get a similar response from a gas powered vehicle with an automatic transmission requires an exact combination of transmission gear and engine rpm's that rarely occurs. Pushing the accelerator to the floor in an electric vehicle is fun, whereas pushing the accelerator to the floor in a gasoline powered vehicle with an automatic transmission is jerky and sounds like a train wreck. I wish that car reviewers could understand this point. I've seen the same electric vehicle reviews calling a car both fast and slow.
Safety: The Kia Soul EV is not yet safety rated, but it is easy to obtain a top safety rating with an electric vehicle given its inherent low center of gravity.
Cargo Space: The Kia Soul EV rear seats do not fold down flat, a feature I really like about the Mitsubishi i EV with its 50 cubic feet of cargo space. An electric vehicle designed from the ground up would have a large cargo space with the rear seats folded down flat.
Efficient Heating: I believe that electric vehicles could be heated more efficiently with further improvements. Electric vehicles could be better insulated to prevent heat loss. A thermal storage system could be incorporated into the vehicle to store heat when it is plugged in to be used later while driving.
Battery Thermal Management: I do not have the details on battery thermal management for the Kia Soul EV, but I believe that the battery enclosure could be insulated and kept near room temperature when plugged in for little construction or electricity cost.
Cool: I know that I am not cool, and I'm not sure what cool is, but I know a cool car when I see it.
Price: The improvements I've listed would add very little to the price. We have seen how the price of electric vehicles has been dropping. I believe that this electric vehicle could be mass-produced with a manufacturers list price of less than $30,000.00.
More DC Fast Chargers: Every 24-hour highway rest stop in the US should have DC fast chargers. Additionally, every gas station with a 24-hour convenience store should have DC fast chargers. I can't tell you how many times I have driven by a rest stop or gas station convenience store when I could have easily stopped for a quick DC fast charge and extended my trip.
Can anyone offer any other low cost improvement that they think would help sell electric vehicles, or something that they would like to have in an electric vehicle?
Now if we all pooled our money together, maybe we could raise the several hundred million dollars needed and start producing this vehicle.