Currently reading: Kia launches new family of slick commercial EVs
PV5 coming in 2025 as Ford Tourneo Custom rival, followed by a whole range of electric commercial vehicles

Kia will enter the world of commercial vehicles in 2025 with an electric van called the PV5.

The Kia PV5, revealed at CES in Las Vegas, is the first of a future line-up of what Kia calls PBVs, which stands for Platform Beyond Vehicle.

Kia has shown off several concept versions of these PBVs at CES alongside the PV5, including the smaller PV1 and PV3 and larger PV7, as well as different versions of the PV5 itself, as part of plans to ramp up its offering of multi-purpose vehicles in the coming decade.

The PV5 will be launched first, in 2025, and is the first model to come from a new factory in Korea – with an initial capacity of 150,000 units per year – designed solely to produce PBVs using a bespoke and more flexible manufacturing process.

The PV5 is 4.7 metres long and has a punchy target price of €35,000 (£30,600) for an entry-level model, although what size battery it will have and an indicated range has yet to be disclosed. A longer-wheelbase version is possible.

Kia PV5 side

It will be built on a specially adpated version of the E-GMP platform used on the likes of the Kia EV6 and new Kia EV9 electric cars.

Unlike those EVs, the PV5 is natively front-wheel-drive and has a 400V electrical architecture rather than an 800V one.

Two versions of the PV5 confirmed to be offered at launch are the seven-seat People Mover – a rival to the new electric Ford Tourneo Custom – and the High Roof panel van, which maximises cargo space.

Kia is targeting small and medium businesses, including utility companies, with this van initially. The pair of PV5s is set to reach the UK in 2026.

Kia PV5 cutaway

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The People Mover will appeal to taxi companies. Kia has confirmed that it's in talks with Uber about a supply deal and indicated that the ride-hailing giant was influencing elements of the PV5's design and configuration.

There are also plans for an autonomous Robotaxi version of the PB5, which has been previewed at CES as the PV5-R.

A production date of 2028 is mooted for this model, which will have level-four autonomous capabilities. As such, its introduction will be limited by legislation. 

The final version of the PV5 is a pick-up truck, although Kia admits this is more to show the configurability of the platform rather than a model with production intent.

The company does have plans for a combustion-engined pick-up in some global markets, but that's separate from this project. 

The one fixed element of the interior of all the PV5 models is the "driver zone" cabin, with the rest customisable through the use of various interchangeable modules.

For example, the area traditionally used for a passenger seat can serve as a secure area for holding luggage, while a variety of seat types can be placed in a number of layouts.

The launch of the PV5 is what Kia calls phase one of a three-phase project concerning PBVs. The second phase will include the launch of the production PV7, which has been previewed as a CES concept also. 

The PV7 will be offered in lengths ranging from five to 5.7 metres and will go into production in 2027. This will also be natively front-wheel-drive but will offer four-wheel drive as an option and be equipped with the 800V electrical architecture for faster charging. 

Phase two will also include the roll-out of new software for the PBVs that will use artifical intelligence to ensure that they're always up to date.

Phase three is more conceptual and not planned until at least 2032, but it envisions a whole network of different-sized PBVs able to interact with one another across multiple uses and business needs.

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The other two PBVs previewed, the PV1 and PV3, aren't yet planned for production.

Kia PV1 front

Kia admits the PV3 is too similar to the PV5 for now but will invite businesses to suggest use cases for it, which may yet result in it being made.

The PV1 is a small, autonomous-only model that's intended for carrying small loads in tight urban areas.

As indicated by the model names, Kia is also open to further PBV models to sit between the initial concepts in the future.

All the models have what's called a "dynamic hybrid" modular body on top of their skateboard EV platform. This combines tubular steel and engineered polymers to reduce the amount of parts needed by 55%, Kia claims, with no reduction in rigidity.

Kia PV1 rear quarter

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Lots of recycled materials are used in the construction of the PBVs, too. 

Kia is also developing a range of fleet-management options, including over-the-air software updates, to help firms running a large number of PBVs.

It's also developing a PBV Ecosystem, based around an integrated rail system on the ceiling, floor and side of the machines, that will allow items such as frames, cabinets and seats to be switched between different PBVs.

Beyond the vehicles, Kia is further planning to integrate robotics and autonomous driving technology into the PBV ecosystem, so that the vehicles are ready for use in future ‘smart city’ environments. This would be in phase three. 

Kia's van could be the cleverest around - but is there a market?

George Barrow

It’s hard not to look at the PV5 line-up with a healthy dose of scepticism but the requirements of the commercial vehicle industry are very different to the passenger car world. Advanced telematics, AI features, and even sustainable materials in the cabin simply aren’t on the agenda for your average Joe whose van is just another tool of their trade.

In its current guise, the PV5 van is likely to sit roughly in the size and payload region of the Ford Transit Custom, the most successful van of the past decade. I have my doubts that an electric-only LCV will be able to gain traction in such a competitive market. The size seems irregular in a market where double-pallet loadspaces are important and many fleets struggle to effectively implement basic telematics in an effective way, let alone make use of future plans for autonomous vehicles and peer-to-peer payloads.

The Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo has already begun to change the way buyers look at EV-only vans, but a new name with no commercial vehicle pedigree, no dedicated commercial vehicle sales and back-up makes the PV5 concept seem more like LCV (or PBV) fiction, than fact.

Kia doesn’t just need to invent a model, but also a market for what is currently a highly advanced digital proposition in a fairly analogue world.

George Barrow is an International Van of the Year juror

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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ianp55 9 January 2024

This is what happens if you use Lego as a starting point,joking aside it looks really ,good clean functional and modern the interior is impressive as well the driver's seat looks very comfortable  and the fascia looks very clear and easy to understand. Hyundai & Kia haven't really bothered too much in the LCV marketplace apart from the i800 but vehicles like this would make an excellent start

Bar room lawyer 9 January 2024

Hey Autocar, why do most articles seem to have a biography of the person who wrote it appended to it?

Are you all looking for new jobs?

Peter Cavellini 9 January 2024

It's got to look nice and these look like Boxes on wheels with maximum use of interior space and probably crammed with ever AI app you'll hardly ever use.