A battery-powered hamster? Kia Soul EV coming to the U.S. in 2014

The Kia Soul is going electric.

An all-electric version of the boxy car sold by hamsters is coming to the United States next year, Kia says. It will be the Korean brand’s first all-electric production car.

The company’s statement said the car will be badged Soul EV, will be based on the redesigned 2014 Soul, and will be powered only by batteries. Further details will presumably be released closer to the car’s 2014 launch.

The Soul EV will only be available in select markets, which means it could be more of a niche product than a mainstream production model.

Many carmakers are building electric cars based on their smallest vehicles to comply with California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate. Collectively known as “compliance cars,” they typically aren’t sold outside the Golden State and other EV-friendly regions.

It’s unclear whether that is Kia’s plan for the Soul EV, but it certainly would fit in well with a group of micro-EVs that already includes the Fiat 500e, Scion iQ EV, Honda Fit EV, and Chevrolet Spark EV.

One advantage the Kia will have is the essential goodness of the base car. The Soul combines a bit of the cuteness of the Fiat and Scion with some of the practicality of the Chevy and Honda.

We’ll get a better idea of how the Soul EV stacks up against the competition as its 2014 on-sale date gets closer.

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