Kia to Create its First Purpose Built Vehicle Factory

Kia will create its first manufacturing facility dedicated exclusively to producing electric multipurpose mobility or purpose-built vehicles (PBVs).

The new production hub will be located within Kia’s existing Hwaseong manufacturing site in Korea. The company plans to begin construction in the first half of 2023, with the aim to begin commercial production in the second half of 2025. The plant will initially be able to build 100,000 PBVs a year with the capacity to increase production to 150,000 units annually in line with the expected growth of the BEV market.

When combined with autonomous driving technology, PBVs are expected to offer a new means of transportation able to handle a wide variety of applications from a single platform. The new PBV plant will feature state-of-the-art automation processes combined with advanced technologies that reduce carbon emissions during the production processes. The site is also equipped with clean painting and energy-saving facilities to reduce environmental impacts further.

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When operation begins in the second half of 2025, the new PBV facility will build a mid-sized PBV, Kia’s first dedicated PBV model. Kia’s first dedicated PBV will be based on Kia’s ‘eS’ skateboard platform, explicitly developed for PBVs. The new platform can flexibly accommodate various PBV model sizes in response to diverse customer demands. Following the launch of the model codenamed SW, Kia will diversify into unmanned micro-sized PBVs, general logistics, fresh food, multi-seat shuttles and large PBVs that can be used as mobile offices or shops.

Each of the PBVs will be equipped with an OTA technology to update the vehicle’s software in real-time. Kia has already launched a PBV in the shape of the Niro Plus, a derivative PBV as an full electric taxi in Korea.

Ho Sung Song, president and CEO of Kia Corporation, said: “This dedicated PBV facility is one of the major pillars of our Plan S strategy as Kia seeks to claim the top position in the global PBV market. We will initially explore new markets with derivative PBV models, then gradually expand our presence in global markets with dedicated PBV models featuring autonomous driving technologies.”

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

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