Phantom Kia Soul EV Sales In Germany Really A EU Emission Evading Machine?

2 years ago by Mark Kane 40

Plug-in electric car registrations in Germany – October 2015

Plug-in electric car registrations in Germany – October 2015

Soul EV

Kia Soul EV

Germany’s plug-in electric car market is booming. In October a record number of 2,717 all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars were registered.

The top model curiously was the Kia Soul EV with a stunning 980 registrations.

But as it turns out, Germans don’t necessarily buy the Soul EVs because of their rounded shape or pretty decent 150 km/93 miles of real world range (EPA).

The reason rather could be highly related to the environment and emissions – something that Germans seem to be really aware of lately.

Truthfully, the high level of Kia Soul EV sales in Germany was dumbfounding, especially that there is no big rush in other markets beside Norway to purchase pure electric cars, and this is where many Kia Soul EVs were imported used from…Germany:

Kia Soul EV registrations in Germany – October 2015

Kia Soul EV registrations in Germany – look at it go up! – October 2015

Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EV

According to the Transport and Environment, carmakers in European Union need to comply with 130 g of CO2 emission per km in 2015 or face big penalties. In 2021 it will be 95 g.

In 2014 Kia averaged in Germany at about 141.9 g of CO2/km, and so far in 2015 it has dropped to 134.2 g of CO2/km.

134 is much less than 140.2 in the first half of the year. So what happened?  In September 380 Soul EV lowered the number to 128.1 for the month, and the astounding  980 Soul EV in October lowered it to 112.2 g of CO2/km.

A couple more uber months of Soul EV sales and the annual-average will be in-line with requirements, above which you need to pay fee for every additional g of CO2 per km.

German magazine Spiegel stated that going a g above average, could translate to a €70 million euro ($74 million) fine per year.

So it would seem every is going ok now in the EU for Kia, but the problem is that those Soul EVs are being mass-scale exported out of European Union, after first registering and lowering the company’s average emission inside the region.  A loophole in the system.

These Soul EVs after being washed through Germany, are reportedly mostly being exported to Norway, which is not in EU. Which perhaps is the better reason why Norway is not getting enough Soul EVs directly, and have such a high used import ratio this year.

As Spiegel suggests, this appears to be a Kia/Hyundai brand strategy put in place to evade emission rules, so we are not impressed. Otherwise, Kia could send just more Soul EVs directly to dealers in Norway.

There is also no proof that other brands aren’t sending some of their EU-registered electric vehicles abroad of region, but as this current still a legal, profitable, and risk-free practice, we imagine it could very well be the case.

source: spiegel.de and manager-magazin.de

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40 responses to "Phantom Kia Soul EV Sales In Germany Really A EU Emission Evading Machine?"

  1. Assaf says:

    Hmmmm…. at this point waiting for a 3rd shoe to drop.

    What will it be?

    1. Bonaire says:

      Every system can be gamed. The number 2500 comes to mind. Incentives and fines should be put through a panel of game theorists before being set into law. All of it will come crashing down on those who get caught or lawmakers who are too lenient on the words used to establish these attempts at government trying to create some form of unfair tweak to. Long established system.

      How about something simple which can drive EV adoption. A long, slow and beneficial change to taxation on fuels that they want to do away with. In the USA, one cent per year gas tax rise. Small but you have ten years to get ready for the ten cent difference. Half the fleet will turn over in 10 years. Road funds will grow and oil prices are low now and would stay low as demand keeps dropping.

      1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

        Any politician in the US would be dead in the water after proposing such ideas. It is not going to happen. Besides, when you increase taxation, it is not just gasoline that is taxed, but electricity too. E.g. around 0.20Eur/kWh average residential price in EU and 0.30Eur/kWh in Germany or Denmark.

  2. andre says:

    Germany is nowhere with electric cars….but excellent in speeding(pollution) and massive cheating…(so called clean diesel cars !)

    1. Alaa says:

      See Germany is dependent on Russia and LNG in particular. So if they turn electric well they will need more from Putin. Th dutch will not give them anything. So they have to beg the USA and NATO not to be harsh on Putin.

      1. buu says:

        no they will build more coal power stations natural gas is too expensive

      2. You are a well brainwashed Amerikan.

      3. drpawansharma says:

        Or they could import hydropower from norway.

        1. Alaa says:

          Norway will never forgive the Swedes for letting the Germans walk and cross Sweden to occupy Norway. So do you think that Norway will ever forgive the Germans? NEVER.

          1. Mikael says:

            Norway (and Denmark) were occupied during Operation Weserübung in April 1940. The Norwegian occupation was made by sea and air, Sweden had nothing to do with it and there were no troops going through Swedish land before Norway was fully occupied.

            Long after Norway was under German control there were some transports by rail of German soldiers on leave, with the simple rule of 1 soldier in, 1 soldier out.

            On the contrary Sweden took in a massive surge of Norwegian refugees and helped with lots of financial aid, food and clothes during their period of occupation.

    2. notting says:

      1. E.g. in France are (in %) _much_ more Diesel cars than in Germany.
      2. I think in the US the VW scandal is a good way to “remove” the GM scandal from the media (where people were directly killed!). No, I absolutely don’t like VW.
      3. IMHO it’s clever to _not_ but (B)EVs right now (as your first car) but to wait for EVs with higher electric range. There’s no affordable EV with which I can bei sure that can drive to work[1] and back also like in winter when it’s like 10 years old, even when your’s not driving faster than 130km/h. Especially it’s not clever to throw away (resp. to sell) a technically perfectly working car (production of a car needs much energy!). But obviously in some countries this environmental unfriendly thing was financially supported by the government. When the German government supported buying a car financially, the old one had to be at least 9 years old…

      notting

      PS: Next Tesla service center -> >130km away -> + >130EUR for every service. 3-4(!) are now announced for months(!) which would be much closer to me but nothing happened. I hope Renault releases an Megane Z.E. early enough.

      [1] If you want to get unemployment compensation here, you have to apply/drive like 80-90km distance no matter I you can charge it at work or not. So concerning range: Minus winter, minus degradation, minus reserve…

  3. Dag Johansen says:

    Meh….yeah, it is a weird loophole bloating the sales. But if it is causing more EVs to be built and sold, then it is a good thing.

    1. kosee says:

      Yeah in the end someone is driving these cars who otherwise would maybe drive an ice or plug in hybrid.. I couldn’t care less if that’s a Norwegian or a German. It might be bad for German infrastructure development though.

      1. MikeG says:

        I disagree. Germany is using a trick to avoid cleaning up its emissions and the Norwegians would still buy EVs.

        Better to close the loophole and make the Germans either follow the law or pay up. Considering how the Germans are all about following the law when it comes to others, they are behaving like hypocrites.

        1. Carsten says:

          I wish, the German government would promote the EV’s.
          In the case of the KIA Soul EV, I have to disagree with you.
          It’s KIA, that plays the loopholes in EU-law and not the Germans.

          1. MikeG says:

            Sorry, I mis-read the article. I see that this is Kia Germany evading the EU law, not the German government.

            Hopefully this loophole is closed quickly.

            1. Knut Erik Ballestad says:

              This ‘loophole’ exists in any country that gives tax or cash rebates on EV *sales*.

              Nissan Leafs have been imported from Belgium/France etc to Norway for years already. First you sell the car, and registers it locally, and then you sell it to another country which doesn’t couple the incentives to the registration of factory-new cars – and voila you get the benefits from multiple countries.

              I don’t know about the Kia situation, but for the Leaf’s, this is handled by local dealers, and not by Nissan itself. Of course will a dealer register and then re-export a car as long as it is legal and profitable. Law is black or white, and the morality or ethics of doing this is usually not considered as long as the actions are not illegal.

        2. mr. M says:

          It’s not a german law, it’s a european law. All EU sales count. But Yeah it would be better if the EU closes this loophole with something like “only emmisions of cars that are registered more than a year count”.

          More BEVs are good. Sell it in Norway and EU!

    2. Knut Erik Ballestad says:

      Lot’s of Nissan Leaf’s are also imported to Norway from France, Belgium and the US as well. All these countries have state sales incentives – and after receiving those, the cars are sold to Norway.
      – From France/Belgium comes cars with typically only a few km’s of mileage
      – From the US comes Leaf’s that have typically just ended theur leasing period.

  4. Mark C says:

    Like everyone else who feels someone is gaming the system, the rules will be adjusted accordingly. I don’t believe this will last too long.

    1. mr. M says:

      The system can only be gamed as long as norways buys in masses compared to the requirements. This can not happen even with norway buying 100% imported BEVs. The norway market is small. After 2020+ the norway imports might fullfill the last some percent of BEV sales but nothing more.

    2. Braben says:

      It won’t last much longer anyway given that the EV gold rush in Norway will end soon; the Norwegian government has decided scale back the huge (and very expensive) incentives over the next few years.

      1. Mikael says:

        There is nothing ending in Norway. They are nowhere close to their own 2020 goal for CO2 emissions from new cars.

        How hard is it to understand that the EV percentage of new car sales in Norway is not going to go down, only up?

        1. Braben says:

          The political decision has been made. There are much less expensive ways to achieve the emission goals.

          1. Knut Erik Ballestad says:

            No political decision has been made!
            – document your statement e.g. by providing a link to this info…..
            ….oh that’s right – how can you link to non-existing info?

            By the way – how do you propose to reduce the emmisions further if not by introducing EV’s?
            – Maybe VW can make a special SW for Norway that ‘reduces’ emissions 🙂

      2. Knut Erik Ballestad says:

        Nope, you are getting the facts backward!

        The Norwegian government has *not* decided to do anything with the incentices at any time. They have decided that they will not touch the incentives before 2018 – then it is your own opinion that this means the incentives will be removed then!

        But as others have stated, if we don’t continue the incentives, we will in no way be able to reach the goals for 2020.

  5. German press does systematic hunt down foreign car maker to clean wash Volkswagen.

    The story is total make up and useless, because there are NO PENALTIES until 2021. It’s complete irrelevant, if Kia can meet the regulation limit now or next year or not. It will have zero consequences until 2021. And it’s total irrelevant, if a car maker can meet the requirements earlier or not, they can not transfer bonuses from being better now to later years.

    1. Paul says:

      As far I can see there ARE penalties in 2015. Please search for “Die EU-Verordnung zur Verminderung der CO2 – Emissionen
      von Personenkraftwagen” and you will find the European rules. In German language, sorry.

      Where do you have the information from that nothing is punished until 2021?

    2. Mikael says:

      There will be punishments for 2015 if they are not complying. But both Kia and Hyundai were barely above the limit in total for 2014 so they will surely be slightly under it in 2015.

      They will have to work hard to improve though, or otherwise there will be punishments in 2020 for them.

  6. Nix says:

    This s*** needs to end.

    The last thing EV’s need is wide-spread public backlash due to even the appearance of fraud and cheating after the VW incident.

  7. Anon says:

    Never trust a hamster…

  8. A similar Phantom effect is occurring along the west coast in the US. A shortage of Soul EV’s in WA state is causing dealers to import any Soul EV’s from CA they can find. Often the Souls are sold in WA even before they can be aquired from CA (ie: a waiting list).

  9. Just_Chris says:

    So Kia sells a car to it’s self in Germany takes it off the road and then sells it 2nd hand in Norway. Why bother for 980 cars per month? What a mess, sort it out Kia.

    I suppose it at least shows the legislation has some teeth.

  10. Paul says:

    This “cheating” is very different from the VW-cheating. VW is polluting much more then the tests said and the result of that lying is bad for everybody’s health.

    Kia’s cheating is purely administrative, but they are not polluting more. It’s just that their clean EVs are driving around in Norway and not in Germany. For our planet that is just as good.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Well, actually not really. The effect is exactly the same, it is just not outright illegal, just dishonest and in bad corporate faith. Much more emissions are being emitted than are reported on paper.

      The rules are there to reduce emissions, clean up the fleets, Kia’s fleet in the EU is putting out 141.9kg, when it is supposed to be 130g (and dropping to 95 in 2021). So rather than by complying and building a cleaner fleet, they are building dirty cars (relative to the mandate), and spewing above the standard (where they should facing a big fine to promote compliance) while pushing a piece of paper around.

      No “extra” EVs are being produced here, demand in Norway (and wherever else the car is exported) is still the same, those 1,000-buyers of Geman registered EVs over the past couple months in Norway would still be driving an EV, it is not like they would have bought an ICE instead. Without this loophole, Kia would have had to built cleaner cars in the EU.

      They have to get down to 95 g in 2021, if they don’t close the loophole do you think they are going to actually fully comply?

      Or is the new long-range Hyundai/Kia all-electric sedan coming next year just going to get washed through the same way if they get in trouble with the number again so H/K can keep on selling what they already do witout 300 million in fines?

    2. Braben says:

      It’s not “purely administrative”. Exploiting the loop hole allows them to delay reducing their fleet emissions within the EU. The EVs would have been sold in Norway anyway without the detour through Germany. The net result is more overall emissions than there would have been otherwise.

    3. It’s not Kia cheating … rather the German government not using a good measure, or metric. The issue is measuring a manufactured fleet emissions based on fleet “sales” in Germany, vs. “registered” vehicles driving in Germany (eg: only including vehicles that have been registered for last 12 consecutive months). This avoids manipulation by anyone by creating a transaction without a vehicle being physically in operation in a region for a period of time.

      Similar poor / broken metics to measuring fleet emissions exist in the U.S. with the 8 ZEV states. A loop-hole allows PEVs to be registered only in California, but count in the other ZEV state. For the 6 ZEV states in eastern-US (excluding CA & OR), the number of PEVs physically registered is very low, by the fleet emissions requirement fully meet by administrative requirements. Fortunately this loop-hole is set to expire in 2018, and a percentage of PEVs will be required to be registered in each ZEV state!

  11. zzzzzzzzzz says:

    “Grey” import of new-used electric cars in Norway is well known and it is not news and not some Kia conspiracy by itself. It is not illegal, it is what happens when you run economy by too much subsidies. Some loopholes are left and somebody uses them.

  12. Is Kia the only one with Phantom PEV sales, or do other manufactures/dealers use the same administrative fleet emission’s loophole?

    eg: VW and Nissan both have a high number of eGolfs and LEAFs registered in Norway too, compared to German registrations.
    http://twitter.com/JATO_Dynamics/status/670257403754127360/photo/1

    1. Knut Erik Ballestad says:

      Phantom PEV sales of Nissan Leaf’s are much more common (higher volume) than for Kia Soul’s.