Kia is shifting its EV strategy into a higher gear with a major announcement of a new production plant, which will be located in the Gyeonggi Province in South Korea. While the 1 trillion won (£609 million) investment is surely very important, there’s another piece of news that is probably even more interesting – Kia will release a family of light commercial vehicles with fully electric powertrains and the first model from the range will arrive in 2025.
The automaker calls these new products “purpose-built vehicles” and releases early sketches showing glimpses of four differently-sized vans. All of them will be based on the firm’s eS skateboard platform for electric vehicles, which can be used for various types of body styles and sizes. The project is known internally as the SW and Kia promises it will release the first model by the middle of the decade.
The SW family will consist of different models meeting the demands of different businesses. The range will include a delivery van, a ride-hailing van, and most likely a robotaxi. The first to arrive will be the mid-sized models, followed by large-sized LCVs that will have cargo and passenger versions. Small-sized vans will also be launched with autonomous driving technology.
The new light commercial vehicle lineup will be produced at a new plant, which should become operational in the second half of 2025. Kia’s ambitious plan is for as many as 150,000 vehicles to be assembled in the first full year with potential expansion in the next years. In the new factory, the automaker will implement a new production process, which it calls the cell method. It reduces the distance that materials and products need to travel during production by grouping together machines or workstations that are used to produce similar products or components.
Kia’s new factory and the new family of battery-powered vans are part of Hyundai Motor Group’s plan to become the world’s third-largest EV manufacturer by the end of the current decade. Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis will invest around £14.6 billion in the next seven years in an attempt to expand their EV production in South Korea. By 2030, the automotive conglomerate wants to have no fewer than 31 electric models on sale globally.