Kia’s ‘Platform Beyond Vehicles’ is a family of modular electric minivans for businesses

CES is known for highlighting the bizarre, the uncompromising and the unmoving in the automotive industry, but it’s backing Kia for thinking more practically with its latest concept.

The South Korean automaker unveiled the PBV, or Platform Beyond Vehicle, which uses a flexible chassis to support a variety of vehicle types designed for businesses and individuals. How flexible? At least Kia is thinking about it nine different vehicle variants built on the same platform.

The PBVs look a bit like boring blobs: minivans with flat fronts, minimal overhangs and an overall boxy design that screams “utility.” They can have a long or short wheelbase. The interior can be configured to suit the specific usage situation. Customers can mix and match different seating arrangements if they want to shuttle passengers. But if cargo is the priority, the seats can be removed to make enough room.

And unlike some concepts, the PBVs can become a reality based on a comprehensive multi-year business strategy outlined by Kia. The automaker anticipates that this strategy will unfold in three distinct phases.

They can have a long or short wheelbase and the interior can be adapted to the specific usage situation

The first involves the introduction of the PV5, “a versatile EV optimized for key domains such as notification, delivery and utility, offering conversion capabilities for a variety of customer needs.” The PV5 is designed to function as a software-defined fleet, connecting each vehicle to a central hub for delivery information and navigation.

In the second phase, Kia will build out the rest of the PBV range, with each vehicle evolving into “AI-based mobility platforms that use data to communicate with users and help keep vehicles up to date.”

And in the third and final phase, the vehicles will further develop into “highly adaptable, tailor-made mobility solutions through integration with the future mobility ecosystem.” Unclear? Sure, but nothing outside the realm of possibility.

This isn’t the first time the “PBV” concept has appeared at CES. Hyundai, which owns a majority stake in Kia, also had a PBV, or Purpose Built Vehicle, at the 2020 show as part of its air mobility concept. It was described as an ‘environmentally friendly urban vehicle’ that would match the company’s models. electric air taxis for ground transportation.

Kia hasn’t released any specs for its spin on the PBV, aside from describing it as a weldless body structure designed to be shipped in “standardized kit form.” The design is simple and unadorned, which emphasizes their chimeric nature. As Kia puts it:

Behind a fixed cabin, or ‘driver zone’, several 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 van at night and a personal recreational vehicle on weekends.

But these won’t be flimsy, interchangeable parts. Kia says the PBV is designed to be ‘solid’ [and] robust” – although that will certainly be a challenge given the nature of modular designs with their many potential failures.

The design is simple and unadorned, which emphasizes their chimeric nature

The phase one plan for the PV5 includes several variants including Basic, Van, High Roof and Chassis Cab. Kia said it plans to introduce a robotaxi model in the future developed in collaboration with Motional, a joint venture between Aptiv and Kia’s parent company Hyundai.

Two more models will be added in phase two, the PV7 and PV1. The former aims to be the largest product in the PBV range, designed with more interior space, reach and enhanced functionalities. The latter will be the smallest of the series, designed for agile logistics transport over short distances, with a minimum turning circle, even in small spaces.

Inside, the vehicle will feature a number of rails on the floor, ceiling and side panels, as well as on the outside to individually adjust the load. Customers get a say in design and production based on how they want their vehicles to look.

Kia plans a dedicated factory in Hwaseong, South Korea, to produce the PBV vehicles. The plant will come into operation in 2025 with an expected production of 150,000 vehicles per year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *