Kia’s PBV Concepts Expand Commercial Possibilities

At CES 2024, Kia took its first steps into the light commercial vehicle market with a series of all-electric concepts called the Platform Beyond Vehicles.

The Kia Concept PB5 on display at CES 2024. The production version is expected to arrive in 2025. (Sebastian Blanco)

Kia’s entry into the light commercial vehicle market, launched at CES in Las Vegas, provided an overview of the potential range, from last-mile delivery vehicles to medium cargo vans. Kia’s Platform Beyond Vehicles (PBVs) will enter production with the PV5 in 2025 at a new PBV-dedicated plant in Hwaseong, Korea. The larger PV7 will follow between 2027 and 2032.

Kia’s new line of all-electric light commercial vehicles will be built using the Platform Beyond Vehicles system and could include digital screens on the exterior. (John Kendall)

PV5, similar in size to the Ford Transit Connect, was always going to be the first of the range to enter production, according to executive vice president and head of Kia Global Design, Karim Habib. Design plans include a van, a high-roof van and a robot taxi. “The primary purpose was a business-to-business vehicle,” says Habib.“ The business-to-customer side was definitely not very high on the list at the beginning. It came in more and more as the product took shape and as we saw the potential for it, but the business-to-business side was definitely the most important, whether it's ride-hailing or delivery logistics.

The Kia PBV concepts feature flexible, open interiors that can be adapted to fit the needs of commercial customers. (John Kendall)

“It's a cool, rational kind of thing because we're designing more living spaces now, even when we're doing normal passenger cars, it's about making sure that the time you spend in the vehicle has value, it's not just about the driving. A van is the ultimate execution of that. The great thing about doing it on the EV side is that the overhangs can be much shorter; you don't have a front-wheel-drive layout with the engine in front of the axle. The wheelbase is much longer, the wheels are much bigger, and the vans have a great stance.”

The rear of the Kia PB5 concept can be outfitted with matching storage crates. (John Kendall)
Karim Habib, executive vice president and head of Kia Global Design. (Kia)

The design team didn’t just focus on designing the complete vehicle; it also turned its attention to areas that are usually handled by external converters and outfitters, Habib said,

“We designed the bare-bones, base one,” he said. We designed what would be an option out of the factory, and we also designed the accessories, but I’m talking here in terms of virtual. We did some mockups, nothing fully production-ready, and we would like to propose that to those third parties, for them to manufacture them, based on those principles.”

One of the design’s distinctive features is the apparent lack of headlamps. They’re there, just positioned in the gap above the front fender, where the air intake for cooling air in an internal combustion engine vehicle would be.

We wanted to place the headlamps up for two reasons. One is that it gives the vehicle a certain presence, but also because we didn’t want them low in the corners for crash damage reasons,” Habib said. “They’re inset, so they’re further in. They’re also recessed to protect them. The fenders are in three pieces so that the corners can be replaced, and the center can stay.”

Kia plans to sell around 300,000 units a year in 2030. Following the launch in Korea in 2025, the company plans to introduce the vehicles in North and South America, Europe, and other markets.