Kia Designers Push for Soul'ster Production

Kia Designers Push for Soulster Production

While there’s no official word yet from Kia, its designers are rooting for the Soul’ster micro truck to move from concept to reality.

It's been nearly a year since Kia dropped two doors and chopped the roof off the back of its hipster hatchback, the Soul, and turned it into the Soul'ster. The concept debuted at the Detroit Auto Show with the mission to haul reactions and feedback from showgoers back to Kia execs to determine if the Korean auto manufacturer should produce the four-cylinder runabout for the U.S. and other markets.

"Kia's internal design community is firmly behind building the Soul'ster," Tom Kearns, chief designer of Kia Motors America, told at the L.A. Auto Show. "We'd like to see it happen. There's no official decision to build it but it's still possible."

If produced, the Soul'ster could be just the spark that compact pickup trucks need to reverse the segment's long and steady decline. About 800,000 small trucks were sold in 2002 but only 393,000 units were sold last year – a staggering 51% drop in six years.

Part of the sales falloff has to do with the current economy, but much of it has to do with price and a lack of innovation in the segment. Buyers can drive off dealer lots in full-size pickups with efficient V-8 engines and greater capability for about the same price as a well-equipped midsize or compact truck. The starting price of a Ford Ranger is $17,440 versus $21,380 for a full-size Ford F-150.

In comparison to current pickup truck prices, the Kia Soul starts at only $13,995. What if the Soul'ster started at that price or little less? Would that be enough to get small truck buyers interested? It's something a current pickup truck manufacturer is seriously studying, according to a senior executive (not from Kia) who spoke with us at the L.A. Auto Show.

"Compact pickup trucks used to be hot in the 1980s and 1990s," said the executive, who asked to remain anonymous. "College kids and retirees used to drive them before prices got too high. Now, the trucks are too expensive. We're making it a priority to try to reinvent the segment. We think it has to be priced in the $10,000-to-$15,000 range."

Kia chose the L.A. Auto Show to launch the latest generation of its Sorento crossover utility vehicle . The Sorento is being built at Kia's new state-of-the-art plant in Georgia but there's space to expand the plant to build other vehicles there, too. Could the Soul'ster be one of them?


NO NO ahhhh its horrible!!!! Thats not a truck at all. BOOOO!!!!

Ugly plastic piece of garbage !!!!

Ugly,Ugly,Ugly !!!

Some dolts will buy this thing as they bought the Soul they have now...Odd how some people will blow their money on ugly craplastic vehicles like this..

It's as close to a small pickup as any foreign OEM can make given the chicken tax.

It'll look even uglier in the production $10k to $15k versions.

I agree this thing isnt the best looking vehicle that i have ever seen but i can see its uses. College students that don't have anything to haul around on a daily basis that might want to get some sun with a few buddies. I can see it being a cheap alternative to a jeep wrangler. Maybe some middle aged or senior citizens may think it to be a fun vehicle to drive around in but the guys above me are right, i dont think i could really call this a truck. It reminds me of a lowered down drastically altered (hate to say it but) cooler looking Geo Tracker.

I'm sure they'll sell. It's basically a modern, on-road version of the old Suzuki Samurai.
Would i buy one...not a chance.
Is there a market for it...certainly.

That thing doesn't look like it could pull a Radio Flyer, let alone be called a truck.

Looks like an Isuzu Amigo built by Fisher Price.

Do it do it now , and make a 4x4 version too .

maybe it could come packaged in a suitcase that folds out into a plastic city!

Cute little car, but deffinatly not a truck.

SUV's gave way to smaller CUV's, next the pickups can give way to smaller vans like Ford Transit Connect and this 1 - Kia Soulster.

Just cover the rear with a box like structure which is there in Jeep-Wrangler and this will provide a huge space.

Can be used to carry a 40 inch TV box, Christmas Tree, a small shelf etc which cannot be done even with a mid-size sedan.

This will sell just like Kia-Soul sells well.

Gas prices will surely increase as the Chinese are buying millions of vehicles and the pickups will go down.

CUV's are already the #1 selling in Truck segment pushing pickups to #2 place with SUV's in #3 and Minivans #4.

Horrible, looks like some sort of Kit car gone wrong.

While many disagree with the looks (very Tonka) it does fill a gap for an affordable runabout, think tow behinds on motor homes! What does Kia have to loose? its already has the basics, I say chop of the top and add some canvas!

Where I live, many young women purchase Jeep wranglers as lifestyle vehicles. I see this as having a strong appeal to that demographic. Same style of vehicle but likely better on gas and more comfortable on road. Kind of a latter day original Rav4 convertable. Will sell well here if kept affordable.

If this is classifed as a truck though, why isn't a wrangler considered a truck? What do they use as criteria for truck classification?

OHHH!!!!!!! Make it run on batteries and it will be grown-ups version of the Power-Wheels.

It looks horrible but then again I dont care much for the soul. If they build it, it would probably sell pretty well as is those small boxes with wheels that is the craze with young kids right now.

What is the formal definition of a pickup truck?
Here are 2 definitions I found:
1. A pick-up truck or van is a four- or six-wheeled motor vehicle designed primarily for carrying property, weighing less than the local limit for classification as a heavy goods vehicle, and not requiring a special driver's licence.

2. pickup: a light truck with an open body and low sides and a tailboard

Can we please quit calling, crap like this, pickups.

I wasn't calling "it" a pickup.
The first definition I listed would exclude this vehicle.
The second definition I listed would apply to this vehicle.
Mike - do you have a formal definition of "pickup" ?

I count most vehicles with a level load floor (the seats fold down flat in the Soulster) and an open cargo box as pickups. I say most because if the box is too abbreviated proportionally to the rest of the body, like the Hummer H2 SUT, its a judgement call. The Soulster also has high cargo box sides. I dont consider the Suzuki Samurai to be a pickup or the recent Suzuki Basket concept. The Soulster is just to the side of where I draw the line.

Sorry, but that is NOT a truck. This article belongs on Car and Driver...or ROAD mag...not here...IMHO.

I dont and do like this

I dont like it cause its not really a truck but hey if they do produce this somebody will buy it and it could sell decent and maybe that will entice the big 3(well big 2 anways haha) to make something simliar but more of a truck

the return of the luv?

yeh baby i hope toyota will bring something like this out and yes a 4 x4. i will buy one as soon as possible.
had a suzukiin afrika and went where the big dogs could not go

Oh no...the x90 is back

Definitely not a truck

I think you need to draw the line a little sooner.



This is not a truck But it is simple quit looking attractive car. I like this car.

It's funny how people are reacting. Obviously there are specific criteria for a vehicle to be labeled a truck. Seems, like if it meets the criteria then that is it. The people judging the concept vehicles can't decide not to classify it as a truck because die hard pick-up drivers don't like it.
The concept vehicles are made, they classify them so that they can be judged, and that is that.
Are people going to buy it for the same reasons one would buy a traditional pick-up....obviously not. But if you are going to become emotional over the fact that it fell into the truck category at an auto show..........possibly some counseling would help.....lmao

It is different but it will sell it is something that either people will love it or they will hate it! I love it and if they make it in 4wd or AWD it will be a great seller! I want one now, we have a 07 Cooper Mini nad I would trade it in a heart beat for ths!

I can't wait for Kia to produce this truck. I'm gonna trade my honda in for one. Its so sweet, i hope it has more options than the soul. One thing it does need is more power, 140 horses, come one Kia, give us at least 175 in that tiny truck.
Its new, sexy, chick-magnet??!! :-P Thanx Kia

I love this vehicle! I want one SOOOO BAD! I am really impressed with Kia's new vehicles. I could definately see myself driving around in that with the top down going through the BC mountains! It would be amazing!

Over-zealous gluttonous over-consuming American PIGS. We eat the most food, hence while the nation is OBESE, we consume the most gas, and we drive the biggest vehicles. America is an ignorant nation with our Dodge Rams, etc. This is a neat little vehicle and if it were front wheel drive or 4 wheel drive it would absolutely sell. Ok, let's not call it a truck, so will that appease all of you idiots that can't look beyond the hood of your gas guzzling V-8 Hemi? Call it a mini-SUV, call it a Tonka Toy for all I care, but I would buy one tomorrow and I live in Indiana!

Hey, guess what? I just bought a Soul Ignition while I am waiting on the Soulsters! Very cool! Then again, I am 5 ft 8 and don't weigh 400 lbs either FATTIES!

its look amazing in yellow. Its not looking like 4x4 pickup truck such a gr8 design. i like it.

This truck is not a pickup truck it is a sweet car.

Kia pickup trucks looks awesome, but its need to survive against many other like ford, Nissan & GMC

Is this a Kia or a large orange can of Kia-Ora?

Eric Biehn, you said it, and it's all in a nutshell !!!

I would dump my 2007 Toyota Tundra in a heart beat to get one of those!

You'd dump your tundra for this? I wouldn't dump an 87 oldsmobile for it, lol. Sorry kia, I'm just not a fan of the design!

I want one!!!

Exactly what I'am looking for would buy today, I have a Miata was looking at the Tacoma but think its to big

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