Kia also hinted it hopes to deploy its taxi globally at CES 2024

Graham Hope

January 9, 2024

3 Min Read
A Motional Ioniq 5 robotaxi being manufactured
Motional

South Korean automaker Kia revealed a series of concepts at CES to highlight its new modular Platform Beyond Vehicles (PBV) – including one that will ultimately be developed as a self-driving taxi.

The company has talked about its PBV strategy previously when it initially claimed the acronym stood for Purpose Built Vehicles.

But this year’s CES saw it present its master plan in its entirety. The general idea, certainly at first, is to launch a wave of electric PBVs that are modular, but can be configured in a number of different ways.

To explain how this works, the company showed different versions of its Concept PV5. Sitting on the same chassis, the derivatives of the Concept PV5 illustrate the potential.

The vehicle is intended for use in, for example, ride-hailing, deliveries and utility services, and as such Kia showed how it could accommodate different architectures on the same platform – including basic, high roof, van and pick-up versions.

This is facilitated by interchanging the upper bodies – or “life modules” as Kia calls them – behind the fixed cab “driver zone,” with the body connected to the base vehicle via hybrid electromagnetic and mechanical coupling technology.

Ultimately, Kia claims this provides the potential for the vehicle to be used for different purposes at different times – such as a taxi during the day, a delivery van at night and a recreational vehicle on weekends.

Related:Kia Reveals More About Its Self-Driving Future

While this form of usage might seem a long way off, the PV5 is likely to hit our roads sooner than you think, in a more prosaic electric van format, with mass production earmarked for 2025.

The PV5 is also the vehicle that Kia says it will base its robotaxi on. This will be done in tandem with Motional – a joint venture between Kia’s parent Hyundai Motor Group and tech company Aptiv – which is, of course, already operating Hyundai Ioniq 5 self-driving taxis in Las Vegas and recently announced plans to build production versions in Singapore.

Kia hinted that it would be hoping to deploy its taxi globally.

Alongside the Concept PV5, the company showed the smaller Concept PV1, optimized for short-haul deliveries and the bigger Concept PV7, which offers more space and electric range.

It also revealed its road map for the program. Phase one will see the introduction of the PV5, with phase two the completion of the PBV line-up and increased use of AI to interact with users.

Phase three envisages the PBVs evolving into connected self-driving vehicles that seamlessly blend into a single smart city operating system that incorporates autonomous driving, advanced air mobility and even the energy grid. Perhaps predictably, there was no timeline offered for this ambitious vision to come to reality.

Related:Motional Robotaxis to Offer Night Rides in Vegas

However, the PBV plan is moving at pace. The company is currently building a PBV-dedicated plant at its existing Hwaseong manufacturing site in South Korea, which is set to become operational in 2025 with an annual capacity of 150,000 units.

It’s also launching a dedicated business to oversee the PBV operation that will manage the product line-up, integration of software solutions and global partnerships.

“Kia PBVs will initiate a new era of seamless everyday business and lifestyle solutions,” 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.”

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About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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