Kia sees electric vans as a key product of mobility, autonomous technology

Kia is making big bets on electric vans, and it has jumped on the bandwagon with plans to build a new factory in its existing Hwaseong, South Korea, a production complex dedicated to their production.

Construction is set to begin in the first half of 2023, with car production set to begin in the second half of 2025, Kia said on Wednesday. It is initially targeting 100,000 units per year, which will increase to 150,000 units annually.

The vehicles manufactured at this factory are called “Purpose Built Vehicles” (PBVs), which is the term for automotive for electric commercial vehicles.

Kia purpose built vehicle rendering

Kia purpose built vehicle rendering

“We will initially explore new markets with derivative PBV models, then gradually expand our presence in the global market with dedicated PBV models featuring autonomous driving technology,” Kia CEO Ho Sung Song said in a statement.

Kia says it will launch its PBV lineup with the continuation of the first-generation Kia Niro EV – primarily as a special taxi for the Kia home market. Future PBV models will be compatible with seven dedicated EVs Kia plans by 2027. So in addition to models like the EV6, Niro EV, and the upcoming electric pickup and EV9 SUV.

Kia Nero Plus - purpose-built electric taxi

Kia Nero Plus – purpose-built electric taxi

The first dedicated PBV model will be a mid-sized car, Kia said. Codenamed SW, it will use a new platform called ES that is specifically designed for PBV.

Since the launch of this model in 2025, Kia plans to offer a variety of vehicles, including “unmanned micro-size PBVs,” shuttles and large vehicles “that can be used as a mobile office or shop”. All PBVs will have the ability to perform over-the-air (OTA) updates, Kia said.

PBVs are part of the $ 25 billion “Plan S” that has been transferred to EVs Kia starting in 2020. Last year, the automaker updated its sustainability roadmap to include hydrogen and carbon neutrality plans.

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