Kia Says 200-Mile Range Is “The New Floor” For Electric Cars


Last week at the LA Auto Show, Kia stunned us with a 2020 Soul featuring a 64-kWh battery pack.

Kia is making big moves in the EV market. Last week, the South Korean carmaker revealed the 2020 KIA Soul, packed with features and coming with the well-known upbeat looks, but also packing a 64-kWh battery. That makes the Soul join another model from the Kia range – the Niro EV – packing the same, rather large battery pack. And the automotive world took notice.

While the first few years of EV adoption were pretty much the wild west, right now, with more car manufacturers joining in on the festivities, some things are clearing up & becoming standard. Most notably, the perceived tipping point for many buyers – the 200-mile (320 kilometers) range. However, nobody (even us) expected KIA to fit the rather large battery pack to their more city driving focused, lease-oriented Soul EV. And this made for a rather interesting conversation to be had with the Korean carmaker.

2020 Soul EV

Green Car Reports – a website dedicated to everything green – asked Kia why go big on the battery for both the Soul and the Niro. The less expensive 39-kWh battery could’ve delivered ample range in the Soul at a much cheaper price. The answer from Kia is somewhat surprising. It seems that more range is what existing Soul owners wanted.

“The plan all along was to maximize range, because that’s what our customers want,” said Steve Kosowski, the manager of long-range strategy and planning at Kia Motors America.

It was back in late 2015 when the carmaker decided to survey customers about what range would they like in their next vehicle. And however surprising, the idea was that most owners would like more range – even in their first and foremost, city cars. And the magical number proved to be the aforementioned sweet spot of 200 miles (320 kilometers).

“The median range was 208 miles,” said Kosowski. “So from this we learned that 200 miles is sort of a magical number.

However, this meant that the 39-kWh battery pack couldn’t meet the desired range. In turn, it was ruled out at that point in the vehicles’ development process. That meant that most customers wanted an increase in range. even if they are not going to use it in most scenarios. But, it meant that people are also using their usually reserved for the city electric vehicles to make occasional longer trips. Probably on the weekends, or during the holidays. And we can get behind that in a big way!

The 39-kwh pack couldn’t meet that, so it was ruled out at that point in the development process. “It was very telling, we got a lot of very valuable information from that survey,” said Kosowski. “One of the engineers asked, why do you want to carry all this weight around if you only use a portion of the battery most of the time; but I think the industry has shown, and consumers have shown, that 200 is the new floor.”

It seems KIA is directly listening to its customers and providing them with the exact thing they’ve wanted. And if they can produce both the Soul EV and Niro EV in substantial numbers, the carmaker will probably be able to offset the added cost per vehicle (batteries are, after all, expensive). In turn, KIA might put themselves on the map as several other carmakers (sans Tesla) are threading the EV waters lightly and producing low-range EVs that customers seemingly don’t wish for.

Whatever may be true, for most customers, the 200 miles (320 kilometers) range is perfect for 99% of driving situations. Pack that with more charging stations being brought online worldwide, and EVs like these, with substantial range, could take over the automotive world by storm in the next few years.

Source: Green Car Reports

Categories: Battery Tech, Kia

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44 Comments on "Kia Says 200-Mile Range Is “The New Floor” For Electric Cars"

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200 mile range is the new floor? Someone forgot to tell Nissan..

Or, Toyota, Honda and Mazda.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Or Kia. They sell a 40kWh Niro in Europe.


Yeah, it’s not like there’s a 60kWh Leaf coming soon, or that we’ve talked about it repeatedly on this site.

Oh, you mean the 200 mile range 60 kWh Leaf that’s being released three years after the 260 – 310 mile range Model 3 and three years after the 240 mile range Bolt? Some folks here are ok with playing a mean game of ‘Lucy and the football,’ some others aren’t.

Three years after the Model 3? At most about half that! The 60 kWh LEAF will be here before half of 2019 is over.

I wouldn’t place any large wagers on that being true.

Sorry, 2 years. We were both wrong. Model 3 production started in July 2017. If they deliver by next July then it will be 2 years. I won’t hold my breath.

You mean the 60 kWh Leaf that was supposed to be available last summer?

The 60 kWh Leaf coming in 2020 isn’t the new “floor”, it’s a new higher trim option which may be available in 2 years or so.

That is, assuming it hasn’t been delayed yet again.

The new BMW i3 has a range of 150, with the BMW suspension, and rust-proof high strength, light weight carbon fiber body and nice interior.

150 miles of range is 5X my daily driving needs.
And then there’s the REX option.

How much Buffer do you really need?
( 2019 BMW i3 and Tesla Model 3, now Consumer Reports: RECOMMENDED. )

Of course, Kia may likely be Consumer Reports Recommended too next year.

Looks like the physiology of the average driver seems to be they need a 10X buffer of their daily driving needs. Interesting. Even when you can charge from home, every night.

People generally are not contented with averages, it’s more theoretical than practical.

In other areas of our lives we don’t go with averages.

Eg. in our finances people would not settle for a job that pays their average use. if so it would be temporary
Our clothing. Who would not want to have the amount of clothes they use on average.
In a home people would want ample room, if they can afford it.
There are many areas of our lives where it would not be our norm to settle for average.
Power grids set up enough equipment for peek, not average.

It’s just like saying the strength of a chain is it’s weakest link. Similarly the strength of a car’s use is in its ability to serve in the emergencies (occasional longer trips) not averages.

That’s just how we are programmed. There is always the concern of that “peek” use

When EV’s reach the point where it can accommodate peoples peek or emergency use and price parity then the masses will come.

I think Kia is thinking along the right path. (Tesla has already figured that out)

Strongly agree. Consumer psychology is driven by the perception that a good or service must meet requirements a very high percentage of the time — maybe 95% or even 99% of the time. Consumers perceive that the cost of exceptions, as in the one or two times a year some will have to rent an ICEv for an emergency or unusually long trip, is much higher in money and hassle than it really is. People long ago became addicted to the notion that they can just jump in their car and take off for distant places, gassing up on the way with almost zero planning, all on a moment’s notice. That’s a very tough standard for EVs to match right now, and will take bigger, faster charging batteries and a much better charging infrastructure. (Speaking of the latter in terms of the US.) In the late 1990s my father in law, who was by no means a tree hugging technophile, told me he didn’t understand why we all weren’t driving EVs for local use and renting gasoline cars for long trips. He viewed this as a business owner who hated the high TCO of gasoline and diesel vehicles, including the… Read more »

And now there’s Turo to actually make this happen.

I’m seriously considering buying a used Model S to rent on Turo.

One car BEV family here(~20kWh real capacity) . Without the higher range even fairly modest road trips can be a pain. Line ups or broke down chargers can double or triple travel time.
Renting an ICE is an option, but the cost adds up and can quickly eat up BEV gas savings for a year.
I eagerly await the opportunity to upgrade to an affordable higher capacity battery.

Yes, but I make maybe two ICEv trips a year.
Don’t forget the high cost of maintenance, even with low mileage, of ICE cars. Enterprise will pick me up and take me to their lot and rent me a car for 200/week, per trip.
My Soul EV already does 99% of what I need.

No, it’s not about the buffer. The mentality is that I want to still use my BEV to take the monthly weekend trip. These trips often exceed even 200 miles (one way), but the longer the range, the fewer charging stops are needed along the way.

Until the CCS network is both prevalent along interstate routes AND has many plugs per charging station (that are well maintained!) 150 miles isn’t nearly enough. I say this as an i3 owner.

While I am not average, my daily drive is a low of 50 miles and on the high side 120. That is not including trips or out of town driving. 150 mile range won’t cut it in the winter. Today it was 12 deg f and even with preheating I would guess my range will be less than 130 miles on a Bolt that started out over 200 miles. That will get me to work and back, but I will use 1/3 to 1/2 the battery to do it. I could not go to the airport and back without charging (160m). So yes, even 200 miles isn’t enough.
I really would like 100 ish kwh in a bolt sized package. That would allow keeping the battery in the 30-70% range even in winter for daily driving and still allow 200 ish mile trips in winter without charging.

I want the 200. While it’s true that 100 miles of range fits the work week, we have two Leafs that serve as our family vehicles. This means we don’t have a “city” car and a “travel” car. My ’17 Leaf does, in fact, handle my commute and a few errands just fine on a single charge. However…. I have only L1 charging at home (so far) and my wife’s ’17 Leaf is dependent on that. I have access to L1 and L2 at work, so during the week there is no issue – we don’t have to compete for the single plug in the garage. But my life isn’t limited to my commute. Yesterday was a perfect example of why I would want more range. We loaded the family into the car and headed out to cut our own Christmas tree. After a series of misadventures unrelated to cars, we gave up and headed home, my wife researching local options for artificial trees. By the time we completed our odyssey I had driven 93 miles in 60F temps with no climate control and had a low battery warning with the GOM flashing “16” at me. Because we still had… Read more »

Yes and no. You can say < 200 miles is not an attractive EV, but then some manufacturer comes out with a sub-20k car that has < 100 range (cough… VW) and it will sell. I drove a 75 mile Leaf for 3 years, and it works for a daily commute car. I never considered it for long distance travel.

Absolutely right, “200 Miles as the new floor” is a useless dogma. In Europe in a lot of countries there are cities who want to switch their fleet to EVs. Almost every analysis tells them, that 80% of their fleet never drives more than 70 miles per day. So why buy something you don’t need for a higher price?

Had my 2013 Leaf for 5 years, almost to the day, and I did exactly what you described. Kia is promoting what they want us to buy from them, which is fine, as it’s what every company does. But there’s an enormous market for EVs used as a household’s 2nd or 3rd car that sees only local usage and is charged overnight in the garage. In the five years I had my first Leaf I never charged it anywhere but my garage. In the almost 9 months I’ve had my 2018 Leaf, I publicly charged it once, and that was more so I could say I did it than anything else.

I drove all around western WA in my 2013 Leaf. There were only a few places I couldn’t get to. I was able to make it to the following passes:
Rainy – Had to go around east of Cascades
Stevens – Free level 2 at the pass
Snoqualmie – Level 2 and 3 at the pass
Tacoma – Not sure what I was thinking.
Chinook – Charged at Crystal Mountain

I have been saying all along … why to pay for range you never need to use. Souls is a city car, for majority of buyers and if for some it is not, it soon will be. With many cars coming on the market, there’s no reason why Soul should be considered long distance vehicle for anyone who needs one.

I think the manufacturers want us to think that we all need 200mil floor range …. so they can say, hey we cannot make sub 20K car anytime soon.

If we want to make sure that BEVs will never be mainstream cars, then keeping their average ranges at less than 300 miles is certainly a great way to do it.

That’s doubly relevant as cold weather is starting to appear, along with reports of BEVs losing as much as 40% or even 50% of their range due to cold. Of course, the average range loss even in bitterly cold weather is only 20-30%, but people are going to pay attention to the anecdotal outlier reports.

I think the floor is 250 but the economics is 200 miles. I think geography makes a big difference. Winter in NY makes that 200 mile average about 140-160 in 32′ f, 0c with all your heat on, and 250 miles in summer.

Combine that with daily hill climbs on your commute and that little 30kWh battery in my Leaf becomes shockingly limited. I haven’t even had to deal with the degradation aspect yet.

It’s amazing how seriously Hyundai/Kia are taking EVs, instantly becoming the most relevant player in the non premium segment by far.

I still don’t know how serious they are. It sounds a like a great offering, but they also announced that it would only be available in limited states, ie its a compelling compliance car.

Second comment: The Real issue is speed of charge. I’d gladly buy 120 miles if i can charge in 5-10 min for another 120 miles. Unfortunately you can’t do this yet. I’m keen to not buy more range than needed, but will pay for fast charging capabilities. 50kwh CCS or even 70KWH VS 100kwh charging it’s all ideally too slow still today. Porsche’s 800V system VS Others 400V allows for high charge rates since you use lower Amps.
V x A = Watts. Using higher Voltage to drop your Amps to ge tthe same watts onto the pavement. It makes the battery heavier, but lowers the demand on the motors and electronics. RC cars are a prime example of the issues.

What you need is a bigger car with a bigger battery. Not small car with large battery. The Soul’s format has always been as city car. Small overall, small hatch, not great handling at driving high speeds on hwy …. In city, nobody would expect you to need > 120mil a day.

The real mass adoption will occur when 800 volt, 300+ kW charging becomes reasonably common along highways and among EV offerings. If you can go 10-80% in 10 minutes and add 150-200 miles in the process, there will be absolutely no reason not to get an EV. A 10-15 stop every ~2.5 hours? No big deal. Only true road warriors with bladders made of titanium will complain about that. And by the time such charging stations are rolled out and ready to go, EVs will be at gas car prices or at least much closer to them.

Indeed, getting the average charge time down to 10 minutes or less should be the goal of every EV maker. Until that is achieved, there will very likely remain a sizable portion of the public that won’t even consider buying a BEV.

But to achieve that, we’ll need battery cells with much lower internal resistance, a substantial improvement over those used today.

I would say there are multiple contributors to the desire for the larger battery. Larger batteries generally charge faster, so there are multiple “payoffs” to a larger battery when considering longer trips (fewer stops, and shorter stops due to higher charging rate). Also, for people without a home charger, it means fewer trips to a public charger. And I completely agree with the earlier comment – people don’t seek to meet their average wants or needs – they seek to have the best/most. On average, there are 1.2 people in my car, but I wouldn’t even consider a car with 1.2 seats or doors (or even 2 seats and doors). Every so often I take friends and family to dinner or somewhere, and insist on cars with at least 4 seats and 4 doors.

Right. The futility of trying to convince people to buy cars which will serve their daily needs 70% of the time — rather than ~98-99% of the time — can easily be seen by looking at the high percentage of cars being driven around with empty back seats. Most people rarely use the back seat in their car, but wouldn’t dream of buying a car with no back seat.

It’s all about that range, ’bout that range, ’bout that range.

I like what they did.

I disagree. I’d say 400 kms (250 miles) is the low sweet spot for now. Those dropping from diesels with 700 km+ ranges, or over 1,000 kms in the newer Audi’s with 90 litre tanks, would find 3 or more charges for the same range beyond frustrating – especially given the poor infrastructure right now. The I-Pace would not give enough range security, the Hyundai Kino would – the Audi e-Tron probably not.
200 miles is too low for safe, secure distance driving, especially in Europe.

Er Hyundai Kona.

It was always the floor. They just didn’t offer a car above the floor before.

It mostly depends on the access people have to a 2nd car for weekend trips etc, so a household with two cars can be happy having a short range city car. But many single people who drive “city cars” expect to go away for weekends in the same car.

The Niro EV is the size of cars you often see on UK motorways with people driving a few hours to see friends etc at the weekend. Most single people don’t have the parking space or money for two cars! Often the parking space for someone living in a city is only large enough for a “city car”.

From what I can tell, most “Leaf households” have access to a 2nd car……