Kia Starts Building Facility For Electric Purpose-Built Vehicle Production

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Kia recently hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its special factory for the manufacture of vehicles designed specifically for battery-electric purpose-built vehicles (PBV). Over 200 people, including representatives from the government, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung, Kia’s Global President and CEO Ho Sung Song, and other workers from Hyundai Motor Group and the automotive parts industry, attended the ceremony at Kia’s Hwaseong plant in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea.

Kia President and CEO Ho Sung Song, on behalf of Hyundai Motor Group, stated: “Hyundai Motor, Kia, and Hyundai MOBIS together plan to invest KRW 24 trillion in the domestic electric vehicle industry by 2030, with the goal of making South Korea one of the top three players in the global EV market. Our focus is to enhance the competitiveness of the entire electric vehicle ecosystem, including research and development, production, and infrastructure, and to lead the way in driving change and innovation in the new global automotive industry.” As we just reported, KRW 24 trillion is about $18.4 billion.

With a plan to begin mass production in the second half of 2025, Kia will invest about one trillion won (about $758 million) to secure 99,000 acres of land. In the first full year, it intends to produce 150,000 units, with the option to increase production in response to future market conditions.

The new PBV plant will be developed as an environmentally friendly facility that uses cutting-edge production techniques while reducing carbon emissions. A process layout concept called the “cell method” brings together equipment or workstations that are used to make similar goods or components. By minimizing the distance that resources and goods must travel during production, the cell technique aims to establish a manufacturing process that is more flexible and efficient. The goal of the cell technique is to minimize downtime, lower costs, and boost production by placing machines in a way that optimizes the flow of products and supplies across workstations.

The state-of-the-art manufacturing system at the PBV facility combines the new cell technology with the original conveyor system for mass production to enable flexible production with more customization of various product types.

The PBV plant will also be developed as a low-carbon manufacturing facility by utilizing a dry booth, a green construction technique, during the painting stage of the production of vehicles and lowering carbon emissions by about 20% in comparison to current factories by utilizing natural light and streamlining the manufacturing process.

Additionally, Kia will make use of cutting-edge technologies like automated facilities using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI); automated under-vehicle painting quality inspection; automated installation of parts like glass, the vehicle’s name, and the company logo; and real-time automatic measurement quality data analysis to automatically install and correct the vehicle body.

By promoting automation in heavy-duty labor and occupations that demand looking up at the ceiling, as well as by improving the impression of “openness” and lowering noise levels, the new facility will be a “human-friendly” plant.

The first vehicle in Kia’s dedicated PBV portfolio, SW (project name), will go on display in 2025. The design will be a mid-sized PBV and will be built on the “eS” platform, a special skateboard chassis for battery-powered PBVs that enables the flexible combination of different vehicle bodies.

Due to its excellent load structure and roomy inside that extends to an adult’s height, SW has been designed to meet a variety of business demands, including delivery, ride hailing, and business-to-business (B2B) operations.

After launching the mid-sized SW PBV, Kia intends to broaden its product line to include large PBVs that can be utilized for logistics, fresh food delivery, multi-seat shuttles, mobile offices, and retail, as well as compact PBVs and mid-sized robotaxis equipped with autonomous driving technology.

Kia already has a full-EV taxi called the Niro Plus in Korea. It’s already a PBV derivative, but not based on the eS platform they are planning for with their new full-scale PBVs. It will be interesting to see all the different types of purpose built vehicles that they will make after the plant goes into operation.

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