Kia reveals PBV concepts, roadmap and strategy at CES 2024 | Autocar Professional

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Kia has returned to the world’s leading electronics show CES after a five-year hiatus and with a bang. The Korean carmaker has revealed its Platform Beyond Vehicle (PBV) future strategy at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Kia’s PBV business will initially be based around the introduction of an all-new, modular vehicle, previewed by the Kia Concept PV5.

Kia has presented this future vision alongside a multi-phase plan that aims to see PBVs revolutionize the mobility industry while helping to advance Hyundai Motor Group’s ambitions in robotics, Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), and autonomous driving.

Kia has unveiled five PBV concept models – three Concept PV5 derivatives, Concept PV7 and Concept PV1

Kia PBVs are a total mobility solution that combines fit-for-purpose EVs with advanced software solutions based on the Hyundai Motor Group’s software-to-everything, or SDx, strategy. As a Platform Beyond Vehicle, Kia PBVs will open the door to new businesses and lifestyles by redefining the concept of space thanks to advanced, tailored interiors that provide ultimate freedom and flexibility.

“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 optimized vehicles and services catering to specific market and business circumstances,” said Ho Sung Song, Kia President and CEO.

“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,” he added.

Phase one will see the introduction of the Kia PV5, a versatile EV optimised for domains such as hailing, delivery and utilities that features conversion capability for diverse customer needs.

Three-phase PBV roadmap

Kia’s PBV roadmap is built around a dedicated business system, integrating vehicles, software, and future technologies to deliver added value.

It is divided into three distinct phases and illustrates how Kia PBVs will be pivotal in realizing the Group’s SDx vision as devices that offer tailored solutions according to customer usage patterns.

Phase one will see the introduction of the Kia PV5, a versatile EV optimized for major domains such as hailing, delivery and utilities that features conversion capability for diverse customer needs. Enhanced data connectivity between vehicles and external data such as route or delivery information will enable convenient operation of multiple vehicles as a software-defined fleet. This emergence of customized business fleets and PBV-specific solutions means less downtime and enhanced cost-effectiveness.

Phase two will see the completion of the dedicated PBV model line-up, and PBVs will evolve into AI-based mobility platforms that use data to interact with users and ensure that the vehicles are always up to date. An integrated PBV solution will provide a customized, seamless experience across devices and software. Meanwhile, new forms of business linked with robotics and other future technologies will emerge.

In phase three, Kia PBVs will evolve into highly customizable, bespoke mobility solutions by integrating with the future mobility ecosystem. This is where Kia PBVs will ultimately become life platforms that turn any inspiration into reality. Connected self-driving vehicles will be managed as part of a single smart city operating system. With the emergence of a hyper-connected world where people, PBVs and social infrastructure are seamlessly linked, we will open the door to completely new lifestyles by creating a robust PBV ecosystem based on the Hyundai Motor Group’s future technologies for autonomous driving, advanced air mobility, robotics, and the energy grid.

Aimed at making users’ lives easier

Utilizing ‘Easy Swap’ technology to flexibly address the diverse demands of customers, a single vehicle chassis can be used to fulfil multiple mobility needs. Behind a fixed cab, or ‘driver zone’, a variety of interchangeable upper bodies, or ‘life modules’, can be connected to the base vehicle via a hybrid electromagnetic and mechanical coupling technology, turning the PBV into a taxi during the day, to a delivery van at night, and a personal recreational vehicle on weekends.

Modularization is further made possible thanks to ‘Dynamic Hybrid’ weldless body structure assembly, which enables the length of moveable members to be flexibly adjusted according to vehicle use purpose. Comprised of high-strength tubular steel and engineered polymers, typical parts are reduced by 55 percent with no loss in rigidity. Shipped in standardized, convenient kit form, Dynamic Hybrid technology will allow for the quick and simple in-field transformation of a Kia PV5.

A combination of a simple yet robust surface language combined with expressive graphics seamlessly unifies the PV5 models, despite their diverse natures. On each vehicle, large doors open out to reveal an exceptionally accommodating pillarless opening that provides effortless ingress and egress. Inside, the extended wheelbase and electric platform ensure wide, flat open spaces to offer near-endless stowage and usage possibilities. The driver’s experience is also enhanced, as the cockpit provides a desk-like surface, and the steering wheel can be folded to serve as a desk lamp, creating an office-like environment.

Sustainability sits at the core of Kia’s PBV design strategy. Extensive use of materials such as bio plastic, Post Consumer Material (PCM) plastic, bio paint, recycled PET fabric, felt and yarns, and bio-PU foam not only limits environmental impact today and tomorrow, but also delivers a unique visual and tactile appeal that leads to the creation of new aesthetic values.

Robotaxi model in the pipeline

In line with Phase One, various versions of the PV5 will be available, including Basic, Van, High Roof, and Chassis Cab versions. In the future, Kia also plans to introduce a Robotaxi model developed with Motional (a joint venture between HMG and Aptiv), which aims to provide a revolutionary autonomous hailing experience for passengers.

During Phase Two, symbiosis of the PBV ecosystem will be complemented by two further models, the ‘PV7’ and ‘PV1’, utilizing cabinet and frame systems to enhance interaction and connectivity among vehicles based on the modular concept.

PV7 — The largest product in the line-up, defined by more interior space, greater driving range, and enhanced functionalities.

PV1 — The smallest product in the line-up, PV1 is optimized for agile and short-distance logistics transportation, using driving modules to minimize turning radius even in narrow spaces.

PBV modularity — An integrated rail system on the vehicle’s ceiling, floor, and side panels, as well as on the exterior, enables effortless customization of the vehicle to meet individual customer needs. This system enables seamless transfer of goods and items between vehicles, using cabinets and frames. The ‘rails’ within this ecosystem simplify the movement of items between vehicles, while the modular design of the ’tiles’ and functional accessories, such as speakers and shelves, offer limitless flexibility for a wide range of scenarios.

“Kia PBVs will initiate a new era of seamless everyday business and lifestyle solutions. We hope to make our customers’ lives easier and better, whether they’re stationary or on the move, offering exceptional flexibility and customization through radical modularization,” said Karim Habib, Executive Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design.

“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,” he added.

PBV-dedicated plant being constructed in Korea

To take full advantage of the opportunities enabled by PBVs, Kia will launch a dedicated business system, encapsulating every aspect of the process, from the product line-up to integration of software solutions, and global partnerships.

The product line-up outlined above will be augmented by the introduction of a customer participation-based development process, utilizing customer input and feedback to create more tailored, mission-specific solutions.

Kia is constructing a PBV-dedicated EVO plant in Autoland Hwaseong, Korea. This factory will implement a hybrid production approach, combining conveyor and cell-based methods. Through collaboration with global conversion partners, Kia will be able to offer conversion models for various PBV line-ups, catering to different customer preferences. The factory is set to become operational in 2025 and will have an annual capacity of 150,000 units.

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