Kia Starts Building Electric Purpose-Built Vehicle Plant

Kia has begun building a factory dedicated to the assembly of battery-electric purpose-built vehicles (PBV).

The automaker says its first all-electric PBV production is set for 2025 under the project name SW. This will be a mid-sized PBV and will be based on the “eS” platform, a dedicated skateboard platform for battery electric PBVs, enabling a variety of body types to be deployed to suit different vehicle roles.

SW has been developed to respond to various business demands such as last-mile delivery, ride hailing and business-to-business transactions thanks to its generous load structure and indoor space that reaches the height of an adult. After launching the mid-sized model, Kia plans to expand its product line-up to larger PBVs that can be used for logistics, fresh food delivery, multi-seat shuttles and mobile offices and stores. It also plans small PBVs and mid-sized robo-taxis applied with autonomous driving technology.

The new factory will be built at Kia’s Hwaseong plant, located in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. Aiming to be a cutting-edge smart factory, the annual production capacity is expected to be 150,000 units.

Kia says it will invest around $758M to secure 99,000 acres of land, with the company planning to start mass-production in the second half of 2025. The new plant will be built along eco-friendly lines that apply future manufacturing technologies while reducing carbon emissions by 20% compared to current standards. It will also seek efficiency and intelligence with Hyundai Motor and Kia’s smart factory brand ‘E-Forest technologies’ such as digital manufacturing systems.

One of the manufacturing processes to be implemented at the PBV plant is known as the ‘cellular (or cell) method,’ which allows vehicle production based on diverse customer demands. This will see a process layout strategy that groups together machines or workstations that are used to produce similar products or parts. The goal of the cell method is to create a more efficient and flexible manufacturing process by reducing the distance that materials and products need to travel during production.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, Kia president and CEO Ho Sung Song, said: “Our focus is to enhance the competitiveness of the entire electric vehicle ecosystem, including research and development, production, and infrastructure, and to lead the way in driving change and innovation in the new global automotive industry.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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