Kia launches new family of slick commercial EVs

Kia pb5 concept at ces 2024 57

PB5 is an electric MPV scheduled to land in the UK in 2026

PV5 launches in 2025 as a Ford Tourneo Custom rival, followed by a whole range of electric commercial vehicles

Kia will enter the world of commerical vehicles in 2025 with an all-electric van called PV5.

The Kia PV5, revealed at CES in Las Vegas, is the first of a future line-up of what Kia calls PBVs, which stands for Platform Beyond Vehicle. Kia has shown off several concept versions of these PBVs at CES alongside the PV5, including smaller PV1 and PV3 models and a larger PV7, as well as different versions of the PV5 itself, as part of plans to ramp up its offering of multi-purpose vehicles in the coming decade.

The PV5 will launch first, in 2025, and is the first model to come from a new factory in Korea – with an initial capacity of 150,000 units per year – designed solely to produce PBVs using a bespoke and more flexible manufacturing process.

The PV5 is 4.7 metres long and has a punchy target price of €35,000 (£30,600) for an entry-level model, although what size battery it will have and an indicated range has yet to be disclosed. A longer-wheelbase version is possible.

It will be built on a specially-adpated version of the E-GMP platform used on the likes of the Kia EV6 and new Kia EV9 electric cars. Unlike those models, the PV5 will be natively front-wheel drive and has a 400V electric architecture rather than the 800V of the road cars.

Two versions of the PV5 confirmed to be offered at launch are a seven-seat People Mover – a rival to the new electric Ford Tourneo Custom – and a High Roof panel van version that maximises cargo space. Kia is targeting small and medium businesses, including utility companies, with this van initially. The pair of PV5s is set to reach the UK in 2026.

The People Mover will appeal to taxi companies and Kia has confirmed it is in talks with Uber around a supply deal, and the firm indicated that the taxi giant was influencing elements of the PV5’s design and configuration.

There are also plans for an autonomous Robotaxi version of the PB5, which is also previewed at CES as the PV5-R. A production date of 2028 is mooted for this model, which will have Level 4 autonomous capabilities and as such the introduction of which will be limited by legislation. 

The final version of the PV5 is a pick-up truck, although the company admits this is more to show the configurability of the platform rather than a model with production intent. The company does however have plans for a internal combustion engine-powered pick-up in some global markets – but that is separate from this project. 

The one fixed element of the interior of all the PV5’s is the ‘driver zone’ cabin, with the rest customisable through the use of various interchangeable modules. For example, when in passenger mode, the area traditionally used for a passenger seat can serve as a secure area for holding luggage, while a variety of seat types can be placed in a number of layouts.

The launch of the PV5 is what Kia calls phase one of a three-phase project around PBVs. The second phase will include the launch of the production PV7, which has been previewed as a CES concept also. 

The PV7 will be offered in lengths ranging from five to 5.7 metres and will go into production in 2027. This will also be natively front-wheel drive, but will come with all-wheel drive as an option and be equipped with the 800V architecture for faster charging. 

Phase two will also include the roll-out of new software for the PBVs that will use AI to ensure they are always up to date. Phase three is more conceptual and not planned until at least 2032, but it envisions a whole network of different-sized PBVs able to interact with one another across multiple uses and business needs.

The other two PBVs previewed, the PV1 and PV3, do not yet have plans for production. Kia admits the PV3 is too similar to the PV5 for now but will invite businesses to suggest use cases for it which may yet see it made. The PV1 is a small, autonomous-only model that is intended for carrying small loads in tight urban areas

As indicated by the model names, Kia is also open to further PBV models to sit between the initial concepts in the future. All the models have what is called a ‘dynamic hybrid’ modular body on top of their skateboard EV platform. This combines tubular steel and engineered polymers to reduce the amount of parts needed by 55%, Kia claims, with no reduction in rigidity. Lots of recycled materials are used in the construction of the PBVs, too. 

Kia is also developing a range of fleet management options, including over-the-air updates, to help firms running a large number of PBVs. It is also developing a PBV Ecosystem, based around an integrated rail system on the ceiling, floor and side of the machines, that will allow items such as frames, cabinets and seats to be switched between different PBVs.

Beyond the vehicles, Kia is further planning to integrate robotics and autonomous driving technology into the PBV ecosystem, so that the vehicles are ready for use in future ‘smart city’ environments. This would be in phase three. 

Additional reporting by James Attwood

Source: Autocar

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