In America, the second-generation Kia Soul had an all-electric version available. Not only that, it was incredibly affordable, and still is today. Those used electric Kia Souls can range from $10,000 to $15,000. But with the third generation Soul EV, Kia bumped the price tag up to the point where it doesn’t seem worth it.
The 2021 Kia Soul EV isn’t available in America, and costs an awful lot
Without modifications, the Kia Soul EV has a 201 hp electric motor that can go for a total of 243 miles before needing a recharge. But it starts at £32,000, or $37,000. That’s a hefty price tag for just 243 miles of range. And while you also get a few other goodies, it’s not $37,000 worth of equipment. There’s a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control, and that’s about it.
When you put into a comparison that the base model Kia Soul sold in America starts at under $20,000, and the top trim Turbo starts at $27,000, you start to wonder what Kia is smoking. And that turbo has the exact same 201 horsepower rating while costing $10,000 less.
If Kia were charging $37,000 for their beach-ready Boardmaster EV then maybe I’d bite. With an extra 4.3 inches of height up front and 4.5 inches at the back, roof racks that can fit two surfboards on top, and solar panel powered LED lights. Not to mention all the same interior features (minus the third row of seats)
But even the quality of this Kia-built Boardmaster isn’t exactly high. It looks like someone pieced this together with parts out of the junk bin rather than a $37,000 car made from the factory. Though, in some ways, maybe that’s a good thing.
The Kia Soul Boardmaster looks somewhat thrown together
You may think that’s a criticism, but it’s actually a compliment. The Boardmaster, presented at the Boardmaster surf and music festival in Cornwall, looks like something anyone build do at home. Its rudimentary style fits in perfectly with the surfing scene, with a wooden trunk to protect the fabric from loads of sand that’d be dragged in.
Would I buy a Kia Soul EV for $37,000 if it looked thrown together? No. But would I buy a Kia Soul for $19,190, then build the LED light strip and wooden trunk liner myself? Absolutely. The look of this Kia Soul alone is enough to bring beach bums to tears (of joy), but if I were going to have one, I’d want to make it myself.
However, the Boardmaster is a one-off built by Kia for the festival only. And since the Kia Soul EV won’t be available in the states, you’ll have to either build it yourself or hope automakers fill the very niche market of offroad electric vehicles.
Will we see more offroady electric cars?
We’ve already seen Audi participate in the Dakar Rally with the RS Q E-Tron, and some automakers are coming out with off-road capable trucks like the GMC Hummer. Provided, offroading and beach bumming are two very different markets. One is about being rugged, the other is about being relaxed.
The closest production electric beach vehicle I can think of is the upcoming Volkswagen ID Buzz, which will be on sale in 2023. But that’s cheating a bit, since the Volkswagen Bus was infamous for being the king of chill road trips.
Maybe the Boardmaster will be the one and only example of a beach-ready vehicle from the factory. But as of now, an electric Kia Soul would only be worth $37,000 if it were as tricked out as the Boardmaster.