Kia Motors Corp. is phasing in production of the new Soul cross/utility vehicle at its Gwangju, South Korea, plant.
The Soul is slated to launch in Korea this summer and in the U.S. early next year.
Industry watchers have speculated the CUV could be the second vehicle produced at Kia Motors America’s still-under-construction West Point, GA, plant.
KMA has announced just one vehicle for the 300,000-unit facility so far, the next-generation Sorento SUV. The auto maker in December said it would determine in the next three to four months the second model to be built at the new plant.
“There’s a possibility (the Soul) will also be produced in the U.S.,” a company source in Korea confirms to Ward’s. “However, there are no plans to produce the Soul in Europe.”
The Soul will be targeted at “the young at heart” in world markets, including China, the source says, and will serve to “greatly enhance interest in Kia’s progressive new styling that differentiates our products from the competition.”
The CUV will be offered with either a 2.0L or 1.6L engine, depending on the market, and will be available only in front-wheel drive.
Three design variations will be exhibitied at next month’s Geneva auto show. All will feature production-version body panels but will have different paint, bumper, spoiler and other exterior options, as well as various interior configurations.
“The design of the production version is fixed, so the three concepts are an exercise to show three different themes aimed at different target audiences,” the source says.
While a Kia news release earlier this year identified the production version of the Soul as a compact SUV hatchback, the source says there is no definitive vehicle-type classification for the vehicle.
“The production-version Soul is in the B-segment, but it’s not a CUV, MPV or SUV,” he says. “It looks like an SUV, but it isn’t an SUV. It really doesn’t fit squarely into any of the car classifications.”
The production version of the Soul does not have the rear suicide door of the earlier concept vehicles.
“We’re releasing a teaser photo that shows the rear profile,” the source says. “It shows the rear door has conventional rear latch-front opening features.”