Kia’s current lineup includes a wide range of cars that is growing with new additions, particularly electric car (EV) models such as the future three-row EV9 SUV. One of the most exciting options that Kia is developing, but we won’t see it Kia dealer here in the US, for a while – it’s a choice of special purpose vehicles (PBV). These are models designed with a relatively narrow focus and with features that help them work for that particular purpose. Kia recently unveiled its first PBV and what it will have to offer, including some pretty impressive features that demonstrate what Kia will focus on in the coming years. At the moment, this will be offered only in Korea and some foreign markets, although the potential for release in the US will be explored in the near future.
What is PBV?
As the name implies, a specially built car is just a car, truck, SUV or any other model built with a narrow design. The cars and SUVs you will usually find in a car dealership are built as consumer models; they are designed to meet a wide range of needs so that as many drivers as possible are attracted to them. Although they may focus on certain features or features compared to others, such as full-size trucks with high towing or SUVs with impressive safety packages, they are still designed for general use.
With PBV the manufacturer designs and develops it with much more limited or narrow goals in mind. For example, the van models offered by many brands are essentially PBV; they are designed to transport goods – usually to meet the needs of “last mile delivery” for different types of business. They can be further customized to meet the specific needs of a particular company or commercial client, but ultimately they are designed for a fairly specific purpose. Kia is looking to enter this lucrative market to offer several new options for businesses and individuals looking for PBV.
Kia shows Niro Plus
Although Kia mentioned some time ago that they are targeting the PBV market, they recently showed their first attempt for this purpose: the Niro Plus. Basically based on the popular Niro, this is Kia’s first PBV – and it demonstrates the approach we can expect from them with future models. What really strikes at Niro Plus, from my point of view, is how well Kia has realized the need for customization and the wide range of options that PBV, despite its narrow focus, can still offer.
There are two different versions of Niro Plus, each with its own focus; however, they are still very similar. Between them will also be offered all three transmission options currently available for Niro, so customers can choose the right setting according to what they are looking for. All of this aims to become a “Sustainable Mobility Solution Provider” for businesses over the next decade – by providing more options for PBV in the coming years. Niro Plus is Kia’s first step, but they’ve already outlined where they plan to move next.
Two Niro Plus options
Although both Niro Plus models are built on the same foundation, there are quite significant differences between them. The first model is called simply “Niro Plus” and it is being developed as a general PBV for a wide range of private owners. So far, Kia has mentioned that it will be well suited for use by small business owners who want to use Niro Plus for work for a week and then for a weekend getaway. Similarly, it would be a good choice for the services of private individuals. It will be available as a hybrid model, standard hybrid electric car or both full EV– As I said, they are clearly trying to create options for their customers.
Another offer is the Niro Plus taxi model, which is based on the first generation Niro EV, a very popular model, first released in 2018. Of the two Niro Plus models, this is the most significant change: the length has been increased by almost half an inch, but more importantly, its height has been increased by more than three inches. This was done to create more space inside for passengers, which was further increased by using thinner seats and door panels to really maximize space for passengers inside.
What is even more impressive, Kia has updated the interior in terms of technology: Built-in all-in-one display helps the driver follow the road conveniently and more easily. This single screen will show navigation information, have a cluster of drivers and even include a taximeter to make it easy to track fares. The navigation system will even include data on points of interest that can be shared with passengers, and the locations of nearby charging stations for EVs to make it an ideal choice as an EV taxi.
Future PBV options
This is just the beginning for Kia when it comes to its plans to consolidate as a PBV leader what they see as a real opportunity in a market that is evolving and growing. Their plan is for these two Niro Plus cars to arrive in Korea this year, after which additional availability in foreign markets soon became available. In addition to this, Kia is also working hard to develop what they called a “specialized platform” for PBVs of various shapes and sizes, just as different manufacturers have worked on EV platforms that can then be developed into different models. on.
If all goes well, Kia plans to launch its first special PBV in 2025 – a model designed solely as a PBV rather than based on an existing one, like the Niro Plus. From there, they want to become a leader in the PBV market by 2030 – if all goes according to plan, it seems quite accessible to them. You can also look at things like the release of their updated Ray Van in Korea in February, which is a single van designed to deliver cargo, to see how bold their plans are likely to be over the next decade. But what does this mean for us?
What it means for the US
Unfortunately, at the moment we have no real information on when and when we will see the Kia Niro Plus or any other PBV off our shores. By no means has Kia stated that it will not develop a PBV for the US; instead they just discussed the issue. Announcing and opening Niro Plus, Kia’s official statement was: “Kia is committed to gradually expanding its PBV business worldwide through Niro Plus, and further markets and details will be announced soon.”
In other words, Kia knows that there is a growing worldwide need for PBVs of various types, especially in the United States, where personal delivery and transportation services have been incredibly popular over the past decade. With a high demand for reliable cars, especially future-oriented models with plug-in hybrid and EV drive systems, Kia is positioning itself to become a leader not only in South Korea but worldwide. I guess they want to see how things go in their first markets before taking on anything, but they definitely have room to succeed … if they develop the right features and models.