Uber and South Korean automaker Kia have recently marked a significant milestone in their journey towards sustainable transportation. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, they revealed a strategic collaboration to advance the production of electric vehicles (EVs). This partnership underscores a shared vision for the future of mobility, emphasizing the development and deployment of Kia’s innovative electric vehicle series.
Kia’s recent introduction of its new automobiles demonstrates a leap in automotive design and functionality. Dubbed “Platform Beyond Vehicle” (PBV), this concept revolutionizes the traditional vehicle structure. The base model of these vehicles, characterized by its modular and versatile design, serves as a foundation for various interchangeable components and upper bodies. This unique approach allows the creation of multiple vehicle types, catering to diverse needs and applications.
The collaboration between Uber and Kia is not just about new vehicle models; it’s a strategic move to enhance the variety of electric vehicles on Uber’s mobility platform. Both companies have expressed their commitment to reducing the total cost of vehicle ownership, a factor that is crucial for widespread EV adoption.
Susan Anderson, Uber’s VP and global head of business development, highlighted the role of Uber drivers in the EV revolution. These drivers are adopting electric vehicles at a rate six to seven times faster than the general population in the US and Europe. This trend is a testament to the growing appeal of EVs and their potential to significantly reduce emissions in urban environments.
One of the standout models in Kia’s PBV series is the PV5. This vehicle is a marvel of adaptability, capable of transforming from a passenger vehicle to a van, pickup, or even a robotaxi, thanks to its modular design. Kia’s ambition doesn’t stop there. The company aims to produce 150,000 PBVs by 2025, scaling up production to 300,000 units annually by 2030.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Uber lays the groundwork for this ambitious project. SeungKyu Yoon, president and CEO of Kia North America and Kia America, emphasized the significance of PBVs in customizing mobility solutions. By partnering with Uber, Kia intends to integrate advanced software and services to enhance the ride-hailing experience, aligning with the sustainability goals of both companies.
Kia’s approach to PBV development is multifaceted. It encompasses vehicle design, software integration, and future technologies to deliver added value. The partnership aims to identify the optimal specifications for PBV models and explore further integration of technology and services, benefitting drivers and ride-hailing users alike. The collaboration will also focus on developing proofs of concept, prototypes, and production of PBVs that are specifically tailored to the needs of Uber’s platform users.
In addition to vehicle design and functionality, Kia and Uber are exploring ways to moderate the total cost of vehicle ownership. This includes analyzing various PBV options and potential Battery as a Service (BaaS) subscription models, which could significantly reduce the initial purchase costs of EVs.
The PBV business is set to launch with the introduction of the Kia PV5, an all-new, modular vehicle. Following this, more versions are planned, including the PV5 High Roof, PV5 Van, PV5 Chassis Cab, PV5 Robotaxi, and PV5 Pickup. Each variant, while based on the same modular platform, will offer unique features and characteristics, with specific optimizations for Uber’s ride-hailing market.
This partnership between Kia and Uber is more than just a business collaboration; it represents a concerted effort to shape the future of mobility. By combining Kia’s innovative vehicle designs with Uber’s insights and platform, they aim to make electric vehicles a more accessible and practical choice for a broader range of drivers and passengers, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable and efficient transportation ecosystem.