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The 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) sure was something. Although some may think it’s just for devices and appliances coming to the market, but every year, an automaker or several show up as well. They’re electric now too, aren’t they? This year, many automakers showed off their new projects, whether a battery-electric vehicle (BEV), an urban aircraft, or a new take on vehicles altogether. The Kia Corp is doing this with their new platform-based vehicles (PBVs), and the first wave that will make up a large chunk of new Uber vehicles this year (2024).
That’s right, another partnership with Uber. In 2022, the Hyundai Motor Group entered into a partnership with Uber to form Supernal, the urban aircraft company in charge of new aircraft concepts. They showed up again at the 2024 CES, and now just like their parent company, Kia has entered into a partnership with Uber to promote its new PV5, its first PBV designed for ride-hailing, deliveries, and utilities. Recently, Uber announced its goal of achieving zero-emissions by 2040, Kia can help the company work towards that goal with a new fleet of battery-electric PBVs.
“Drivers on the Uber platform are already EV early adopters, going electric six to seven times faster than the general population in the US and Europe…That’s great for all of us because when rideshare drivers go electric, communities see three to four times the emissions benefits compared with an average driver making the switch.” - Susan Anderson, Vice President, Global Head of Business Development
The PV5 is just the first vehicle in a three-phase plan to roll out platform-based vehicles that can switch out parts and pieces with “Easy Swap” technology, making the vehicle more modular in nature. At first, a variety of fixed cabs will be introduced for the PV5 - Basic, Van, High Roof, and Chassis Cab. While Kia expands on this idea, the partnership with Uber creates the perfect testing ground to create proofs of concept, prototypes, and eventually produce PBVs tailored to the needs of drivers that use the Uber platform. Designed to enhance the data connectivity between vehicles and commercial fleets, the data Uber and Kia collect can lead to personalized riding environments for consumers.
Think about how much has changed in just a few decades. Before today, people would need to call or hail a taxi if they wanted a private mode of transportation to their desired location. Now, people just need to open an app and hail a ride on Uber. Consumers have been renting vehicles for a long time, and in today’s modern market, consumers can also pick the kind of car they want to drive, if not an exact model. Imagine if those two services were put together. With Kia Flex, that’s possible. Currently in operation across several states in the U.S., the Kia Flex program gives drivers on the Uber platform the ability to choose Kia vehicles for use, including EV options, insurance, and maintenance. It’s like a car sharing program through Uber, sponsored by Kia.
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