Kia has reportedly decided to build its first new factory in Korea in 25 years for its upcoming “purpose-built vehicles” (PBVs).
It’s set to be located in Hwaesong, South Korea, and will be the first Kia plant in Korea since the third Hwaseong plant was finished in 1997. The size of this new plant hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Sources told the The Korean Car Blog this new plant needs to be separate from existing factories because it’ll be producing vehicles on the recently announced eS platform, which is a scalable skateboard platform for PBVs.
Construction of this plant will reportedly finish in 2024, and the first PBV with a dedicated platform is planned for a 2025 introduction.
Kia has previously described PBVs as customisable vehicles “that can quickly and accurately respond to customer requirements”. General Motors (GM) and Toyota are also developing PBVs too.
The Korean automaker announced during its 2030 roadmap investor event that it found the “demand for delivery and logistics services has increased significantly following the acceleration in e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The first PBV Kia will produce is a modified Niro EV called the Niro Plus. Set to be revealed in 2022, this PBV has a higher roofline than the regular Niro and is meant for taxi and car-hailing purposes.
The second will be the Ray MUV which will be available either as a single-seater van or a five-seat people mover.
The first dedicated PBV Kia will produce will be medium-sized and is being developed with an eye to reduce business owner’s operating costs.
Kia says it’ll offer a maximum of 1.8 metres of interior height, various body configurations, over-the-air updates and SAE Level 4 autonomous driving technology.
In the future, Kia plans to launch PBVs in a variety of different sizes.
A “Micro PBV” will be targeted toward on-demand food and grocery delivery services and will also offer SAE Level 4 autonomous driving technology.
A “Large PBV” will have “stronger performance” and be able to be used as a delivery van, refrigerated van, people mover, and a mobile store or office as examples.
In this same 2030 Vision announcement, Kia said it’s going to launch two electric pickup trucks by 2027, as it aims to have a full line-up of 14 EVs by that year.
The automaker also said it’ll introduce at least two EVs per year starting in 2023, with high-performance GT variants of each new model line.
Kia said Korea will serve as a global hub for research, development, production and supply of EVs, while other global production sites will produce “strategic” EVs for each market.
For example, Kia said it’ll start producing a new small and mid-sized EVs in Europe from 2025.
One of the first new EVs will be the large EV9 SUV that was shown off in concept form at the 2021 AutoMobility LA.