All-electric 2015 Kia Soul EV will emit fake engine noise to alert pedestrians

When it launches next year, the all-electric, 2015 Kia Soul EV will live out loud in a different way from the customized party-car version that rolled out at the recent YouTube Music Awards. The Soul EV will make an artificial engine noise at low speeds, so it doesn't sneak up on unsuspecting people or animals—a common problem with super-quiet electric cars (as well as gas-electric hybrids while running on their electric engines).

Borrowed from the Hyundai BlueOn electric announced in 2010, Kia's version is called the Virtual Engine Sound System. At speeds below 12 mph, the Kia Soul EV will automatically emit a low, gas-engine-like rumble. The engine sound also plays when you go in reverse. The noise does not persist at higher speeds, under the assumption that the tires will emit enough noise to advertise the car's presence.

Other all-electric cars have taken different approaches to built-in noises. The Chevy Volt has a pedestrian warning chime, but you have to press the button manually, which some drivers may never do. The Nissan LEAF employs a mosquito-like whine that is noticeable (and to some ears, annoying), but it's not immediately identifiable as a car noise.

The Kia Soul EV will also include spacious 8-inch touchscreen. It's expected to last for about 120 miles on a full charge, which is less than the Tesla Model S (206-265 miles, depending on which battery pack is chosen) but more than the next-best, the Toyota RAV4 EV (100 miles). Kia says the 27kWh, lithium-ion polymer battery pack can charge fully on a fast-charging station in about 25 minutes. Charging on the more common Level 2 stations or a traditional AC outlet will take longer, of course.

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