Kia's Beach EV Concept Sports Plenty of eBay Parts
The modified Soul EV sports big tires and a suspension lift to tackle the sand and waves.
When you think of surfing, your mind likely jumps to visions of sand and sun in Hawaii. When it comes to driving on the beach, you probably envision yourself behind the wheel of a drop-top four-wheel drive. However, Kia has its own notions, debuting the Soul EV Boardmasters Edition at an English festival this summer, reports Motor1.
Named for the Boardmasters surf and music festival currently happening in Cornwall, the modified Soul EV sports a few modifications, all the better to tear up soggy English beaches. Built from a "recycled" pre-production vehicle, it's kitted out with a three-inch lift for better ground clearance off-road. The stock wheels are gone, replaced with chunky 30" Maxxis Bighorn sand tires on 16" steel rims.
Other mods aim to make the Boardmasters concept better suited to beach duty, with a custom steel roofrack installed to carry a pair of surfboards. There's also a fold-out seat for sitting on the tailgate, and a rack for drying your wetsuit after a session in the waves. The build otherwise retains the stock drivetrain, sporting 150 kW and 395 Nm of torque from the electric motor, which drives the front wheels. Range is less than the original Soul EV's 280 miles, due to the tire swap, but the standard 65 kWh battery should still be sufficient for plenty of fun in the sun.
Look closer, though, and what you'll find is an astounding example of eBay engineering. To account for the wider track, the car gets a set of those plastic universal fender flares that everyone chucks on their first beater Miata. There's also a cheap solar panel installed on top of the roof rack, kinked and bent into place and held on with hardware-store fasteners.
It's paired with a no-name charge controller to top up the 12V battery, mounted inside the car on a very DIY-looking wooden deck that replaces the rear seats. Loose wires snake underneath wooden planks and aluminum angle, some of which isn't quite straight or true. As a bonus, oily smears and randomly-placed screws all make their appearances.
The idea behind the build isn't a bad one; a lifted, beach-ready EV is absolutely a cool idea. It's just surprising that it was built and then shown to the public in this state. It's one thing for a local dealer to whip something up and drive it down to a local event to spur some interest. It's another thing entirely to share it with the world. We're not used to seeing concept cars covered in parts from eBay. The end result looks more like a high-school science fair project than something from one of the world's major automakers.
To be fair, we're all for automakers having fun with their old pre-production vehicles. We're sure it was great fun kitting out the Soul EV and driving it up and down the beach. It's just surprising to see a global car company share photos of a vehicle in such a condition. Normally, creating a brand image of unimpeachable quality is key. Screwing a few bits and pieces from eBay onto a pre-production vehicle doesn't really align with that goal. Kia's design has been impressively sharp of late, so we're accustomed to seeing more.
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