The automaker says the new system will fit the electric version of the Soul.
The goal is to have the system ready for the launch of the EV in the second half of 2014.
Kia says its engineers are “subjecting the car to the most extreme sub-zero conditions that Soul EV owners are likely to experience during the colder months of the year.”
The EV is being put through its paces in Swedish Lapland, where temperatures can get as low as -35°C.
The automaker goes on to say its system includes a “world-first driver-only ventilation system that improves the efficiency of the batteries and increases the vehicle's overall driving range.”
The new heat pump uses waste heat from the air-conditioning and electrical systems to improve the energy efficiency of the HVAC system and improve the car's ability to efficiently heat up the cabin and minimizing electricity consumption from the battery, says the automaker.
“The system, made up of a compressor, evaporator and condenser, allows the Soul EV's HVAC system to harness the waste heat given off by electrical components.
“Instead of relying entirely on the electricity from the battery to heat the cabin to the driver's desired temperature, the heat pump recycles heat energy emitted by the electronics to increase the efficiency of the heating and ventilation systems.
“By reducing the load on the battery, the heat pump cuts energy consumption from the HVAC system and increases the overall driving range of the Soul EV.”
Working in conjunction with the heat pump, the Soul EV also has a “smart” air intake control system, which monitors and controls the amount of air entering and exiting the vehicle, as well as the humidity level in the cabin to heat it more efficiently, the automaker says.
By better controlling the air flow inside the vehicle, the HVAC system is able to cool or heat the cabin more efficiently and minimize the use of the heating or air-conditioning during a drive.
The system relies on a humidity sensor, temperature control and an intake actuator to monitor and control the in-flow of fresh air to the cabin.
The Soul EV is fitted with a new individual ventilation system that reduces energy consumption by only providing ventilation and heating to the driver, completely shutting off heating and ventilation to the foot-well and dashboard ventilation on the passenger side.
The individual ventilation system is activated using the “driver only” button on the dashboard to efficiently use heat and increase driving range.
The 6.6 kW on-board charger enables the Soul EV to be recharged within five to seven hours depending on the local electricity supply, Kia says.
The Soul EV will be Kia's first globally sold electric vehicle and is due to start production in the second half of the year. The car is scheduled to go on sale across Europe and North America later in 2014.