South Korean automotive manufacturer Kia Corporation says it has begun development of a Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV) business, partnering with cold chain startup S.lab Asia to break into Singapore’s last-mile delivery market.
The two companies have signed an MOU aimed at launching a pilot project in Singapore using Kia’s Niro EV and evaluating the potential for a future PBV-based business model. The EV will be optimized and modified for last-mile logistics service and will be deployed in Singapore’s downtown.
“Through this agreement, Kia will leave a strong image of itself as a collaborative partner providing new value to global mobility service companies,” said DongSoo Ahn, vice president and head of the PBV business group at Kia. “Kia will strive to lead the global PBV market by establishing partnerships with various operators through not only last-mile delivery services but also various open-innovation collaborations.”
Purpose built vehicles – the development of which forms the core of Kia’s mid- to long-term business strategy, known as “Plan S” – are those designed for specific applications, such as last-mile delivery, autonomous shuttles and chauffeur-driven luxury vehicles.
As Kia’s next-generation PBVs are currently undergoing final product development and optimization, Kia, in cooperation with S.lab Asia, will use the Niro EV with a modified interior to transport S.lab Asia’s cold boxes.
The company says it selected Singapore as the ideal location for the project due to the city-state’s infrastructure, vibrant economy and rapidly growing e-commerce market. Instrumental in Kia’s decision was Singapore’s plans to gradually phase out internal combustion engine transportation by 2040 and the implementation of sustainable policies including increasing subsidies for EVs.
To successfully implement the project, Kia says it plans to establish a collaborative framework with other key partners in this area, including Hyundai Motor Group’s Innovation Center in Singapore; SP Group, Singapore’s largest EV-charging company; and Kia’s local authorized dealer, Cycle & Carriage.
It notes it will collaborate further with S.lab Asia to develop and optimize its PBV business model for the Korean market, and expand similar services to the country in the first half of this year.