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Kia Partners with Uber to Develop Custom Electric Vehicles for Ride-Hailing

The alliance focuses on creating electric purpose-built vehicles, advancing Uber's 2040 zero-emissions ambition
South Korea
k 000270.KO Blue Chip 150
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Kia Corp., South Korea’s second-largest car manufacturer, has announced a groundbreaking partnership with Uber Technologies Inc. to develop electric purpose-built vehicles (PBVs) tailored for the U.S.-based ride-hailing service. This collaboration was formalized through a memorandum of understanding signed at CES 2024.

Under this partnership, Kia will focus on identifying and producing vehicles with specifications optimized for Uber drivers and customers. This initiative is a strategic move by Kia to enhance the electric vehicle (EV) options on Uber’s mobility platform, significantly contributing to Uber’s ambitious 2040 goal of achieving zero emissions.

SeungKyu Sean Yoon, chief executive of Kia North America and Kia America, emphasized the importance of PBVs in customizing mobility. He noted that the partnership with Uber is a step towards delivering cutting-edge technology and advanced software and services, aiming to revolutionize the ride-hailing experience.

Kia’s engagement in this venture is a critical component of its “Platform Beyond Vehicle” strategy, unveiled at CES 2024. As part of this strategy, Kia CEO Song Ho-sung announced the launch of their first midsize PBV, the PV5, in 2025. This will be followed by other models including the larger PV7 and the smaller PV1. The Kia PV5 will be available in various formats like High Roof, Van, Chassis Cab, robotaxi, and Pickup.

In line with this, Kia is also set to unveil a robotaxi developed by Motional Inc., a joint venture between Kia’s affiliate Hyundai Motor Co. and auto tech supplier Aptive plc. Furthermore, Kia has initiated the construction of a $757 million PBV factory in Korea, with plans to start producing up to 150,000 PBVs annually from next year.

Expanding beyond vehicle manufacturing, Kia and Uber will also delve into battery as a service (BaaS) subscription offerings to make EVs more affordable for Uber drivers. This complements the expansion of the Kia Flex program in North America, which offers a comprehensive vehicle package to Uber drivers, including EV options, insurance, and maintenance.

Susan Anderson, Vice President, Global Head of Business Development at Uber, highlighted the significance of this partnership. She pointed out that Uber drivers are already ahead in EV adoption compared to the general population in the U.S. and Europe. By collaborating with Kia, Uber aims to make electric vehicles more appealing and cost-effective, encouraging more drivers to make the switch to electric.

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