Kia Corporation and Uber have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, committing the two companies to collaborate on Kia’s planned development and deployment of PBVs.
With the goal of enhancing electric vehicle offerings available on Uber’s mobility platform and supporting the global ride hailing leader in achieving its 2040 zero-emission goal, the partnership will seek to produce Kia PBVs optimized for drivers and fleets as part of Kia’s ‘Platform Beyond Vehicle’ strategy.
“PBVs will play a key role in the customization of mobility, and by partnering with Uber, Kia aims to deliver industry-leading technology with advanced software and services to enhance the ride hailing experience,” said SeungKyu (Sean) Yoon, president & CEO, Kia North America, and Kia America.
The collaboration’s intentions are for Kia to identify optimal specifications for PBV models, with the possible further integration of technology and services to benefit drivers and ride hailing users alike. The partnership’s goals also extend to the production of PBVs tailored to the needs of drivers that use the Uber platform.
“PBVs will play a key role in the transformation of mobility. This collaboration will enhance Kia’s PBV development, with optimized vehicles for drivers’ and riders’ needs,” said Sangdae Kim, Head of PBV Division, Kia. “This will focus on advanced software and services, with the integration of interactive In-Vehicle Infotainment and advanced safety technology.”
New driver and passenger experiences could be facilitated through the development of optimized connected car experiences. Personalized riding environments and interactive rear-seat entertainment systems may follow.
Kia and Uber will collaborate on ways to moderate total cost of vehicle ownership by analyzing the various PBV options and offerings to reduce initial vehicle purchase costs. The application of Kia Connect diagnostic and preventive services will also drive operational efficiencies by using data-driven solutions to detect signs of potential malfunctions, minimizing maintenance outlay and downtime.
Bringing benefits to Uber and drivers alike, the collaboration will also see the growth of the Kia Flex program in North America, with global expansion planned for the near future.
“Drivers on the Uber platform are already EV early adopters, going electric six to seven times faster than the general population in the US and Europe,” said Susan Anderson, Vice President, Global Head of Business Development. “By teaming up with Kia and providing our insights, we aim to broaden the appeal and lower the cost of electric vehicles, making them a more natural choice for more drivers.”
Revealed earlier this week at CES 2024, Kia’s PBV project is a multi-phase, decade-long plan which will see PBVs revolutionize the mobility industry while helping to advance Hyundai Motor Group’s ambitions in robotics, Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), and autonomous driving.
The PBV business will initially be based around the introduction of an all-new, modular vehicle, called the Kia PV5, arriving in 2025. While all variants will be based on the same modular versatility of the base model, each will offer a unique set of characteristics, with further Uber-specific optimizations tailored for the ride hailing market.