Las Vegas, NV – At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week, Kia Corporation and Uber announced a groundbreaking partnership, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development and deployment of Purpose-Built Vehicles (PBVs). This alliance marks a significant step towards enhancing electric vehicle options on Uber’s platform and aligns with both companies’ sustainability goals.
SeungKyu (Sean) Yoon, president & CEO of Kia North America and Kia America, emphasized the strategic importance of PBVs in mobility customization. “This partnership with Uber is pivotal in delivering cutting-edge technology and services, redefining the ride hailing experience,” said Yoon.
The collaboration aims to design Kia PBVs tailored for Uber drivers and fleets, aligning with Kia’s ‘Platform Beyond Vehicle’ strategy. This initiative will focus on producing vehicles with specifications optimal for ride hailing and integrating advanced technology and services for a superior user experience.
Sangdae Kim, Head of PBV Division at Kia, highlighted the transformative impact of the partnership. “By aligning our efforts, we can accelerate Kia’s PBV development, offering vehicles that cater specifically to the needs of drivers and users, with a strong emphasis on software and interactive services,” Kim stated.
The partnership plans to explore various PBV models and potentially integrate technology and services that benefit both drivers and ride hailing users. This includes developing proofs of concept, prototypes, and production models specifically designed for Uber’s platform.
In addition to enhancing driver and passenger experiences through operational optimization and connected car technologies, Kia and Uber will work together to moderate total vehicle ownership costs. This includes exploring Battery as a Service (BaaS) subscription models to reduce initial vehicle purchase expenses.
The collaboration will also expand the Kia Flex program in North America, with plans for global reach. This program allows drivers to select Kia vehicles for Uber use, offering comprehensive packages including EV options, insurance, and maintenance.
Susan Anderson, Vice President, Global Head of Business Development at Uber, noted the environmental impact of this initiative. “Ride share drivers are leading the way in EV adoption, which significantly benefits the environment. Our partnership with Kia aims to further incentivize and lower the cost of electric vehicles for drivers,” said Anderson.
Kia’s PBV project, unveiled at CES, is a long-term, multi-phase plan to revolutionize mobility and advance Hyundai Motor Group’s goals in robotics, Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), and autonomous driving. The PBV lineup will include various models, such as PV5 High Roof, PV5 Van, PV5 Chassis Cab, PV5 robotaxi, and PV5 Pickup, all built on a versatile modular platform with unique characteristics and optimizations for the ride hailing market.