Kia's Platform Beyond Vehicle concept: is it a van, a pickup or a camper van? It turns out the answer is "all of the above." The concept that stole our hearts at CES 2024 this week represents Kia's entry into the commercial vehicle world, except with electric power, software-driven fleet management, a high degree of customisation and a modular, transforming body that allows one chassis to suit many needs.

There was just one problem: how the "transforming" part worked exactly felt a bit unclear. Fortunately, Kia showed off exactly how this works at its CES stand by demonstrating the idea with a moving miniature set. Now, you can see just what the Korean automaker is up to here.

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Kia's PV5 aims to reinvent delivery vehicles

Without the constraints of having to put an internal combustion engine somewhere, car designers are, in theory, free to try much more experimental designs. The EV nature of Kia's commercial vehicle allows it to become many different types of vans or trucks depending on the task at hand.

In this video, you can see how the front part—the "driver zone"— on this delivery van separates out from the interchangeable rear section called a "life module." A system of hydraulic lifts and rails moves the life module backward, swapping it out with a pickup truck bed. The rear wheels stay in place, as does the skateboard-like chassis that seems to house a battery module. At the end, the truck bed is secured into place, and the Kia PV5 is presumably free to scoot off and haul things.

Update: Here's another video we missed from Kia that shows off the process.

This almost goes without saying, but it's very unclear whether this miniature setup represents the actual modular body-swapping system a Kia PV5 could use—if it even goes to production with that setup, which alone would be a major coup. Automakers have flirted with modular cars for many decades, but their production feasibility has remained elusive.

But it's still a very clever idea, unlocked by its EV architecture. This would be no doubt trickier if an internal combustion engine and driveline were involved. Will it become a reality in the form we see here? We'll find out in 2025 when the PV5 makes its debut with an especially tantalising $35,000 (approx. £27,500) target price

Contact the author: patrick.george@insideevs.com