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CES: Kia moves beyond mobility

New electric vans revealed by Kia, based on ‘Platform Beyond Vehicle’ future strategy

12 Jan 2024

KIA has unveiled a spate of new EVs at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, all part of its new Platform Beyond Vehicle (PBV) ecosystem of commercial vehicles.


The new models are modular and highly customisable van-body EVs, with options including the small PV1, midsize PV5 and large PV7 all on display.


An Easy Swap system allows vehicles to be quickly and easily converted for different uses, allowing ‘life modules’ or bodies to be swapped using a hybrid electromagnetic coupling technology.


This means a PBV model could run as a Taxi by day, only to transform into a delivery van by night, or so Kia claims.


Of the models teased for the first time at CES, the PV5 – of which three variants were shown – will be the first to hit the road with production slated for 2025, but it is unknown whether it will reach Australia.


While the clever electric van range looks to offer real-world practicality in a simple, modular package, Kia’s overarching roadmap for the PBVs is bordering on science fiction, albeit wrapped in a layer of clever buzz terms.


The idea, according to Kia, is to use the modular PBV range to advance Hyundai’s ‘software to everything’ SDx strategy, offering a mix of robotics, advanced air mobility and autonomous driving.


“Kia’s PBV business represents our vision of going beyond the traditional concept of automobiles by fulfilling the unmet needs of diverse customers and communities through optimised vehicles and services catering to specific market and business circumstances,” said Kia president and chief executive Ho Sung Song.


“Kia PBVs will be an enabler of business innovation thanks to our customer-centric management system, EV mass production expertise, and the Hyundai Motor Group’s rapidly developing SDx strategy and related future businesses.


“We are excited to show that we are fully prepared to become the first mover in the global PBV market.”


The total mobility solutions, as Kia is casually calling the PBV models, will be built around a system that integrates vehicles, software and other future technologies rolled out across three stages.


Stage one will see Kia introduce the PV5 in Basic, Van, High Roof and Cab-Chassis variants, aimed at ridesharing, delivery and fleet applications. Kia has also said it will introduce a Robotaxi PV5 later down the track, offering Motional-powered autonomous rideshare capability. 


Stage two of the roadmap will include the rollout of PV1 and PV7 models, with AI finding its way into the vehicles allowing the PBVs to interact with each other.


By stage three the PBVs will become “life platforms”, as Kia puts it, offering connected self-driving possibilities within a single smart city operating system – this final stage seeming more vision than reality.


“Kia PBVs will initiate a new era of seamless everyday business and lifestyle solutions,” said Kia Global Design executive vice president Karim Habib.


“We hope to make our customers’ lives easier and better, whether they’re stationary or on the move, offering exceptional flexibility and customisation through radical modularisation.


“Untethered to any fixed place, and unbounded by the traditional restrictions of space, Kia PBVs offer users a blank canvas to reimagine their lifestyles and workstyles.”


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