Imagine if a single car in your driveway could change shape depending on the needs of a particular day. Moving a couch? Van time. Buying some lumber? Pickup bed, activated.
That’s the sort of future envisioned by Kia’s “Platform Beyond Vehicle” (PBV) program. The Korean brand plans to sell several different EV models—from shuttle buses to delivery vans—all built on a shared chassis. Here’s the kicker: Kia says the bodies will be swappable at a moment’s notice, allowing customers to transform their PBV “into a taxi during the day, to a delivery van at night, and a personal recreational vehicle on the weekends.”
If this idea sounds a little far-fetched, that’s because it kind of is. Kia design chief Karim Habib told InsideEVs that while that sort of interchangeability is in the works, it won’t be available on the brand’s first PBV coming in 2025, the PV5.
“We are working on a technology, that’s not going to come with the PV5 but that will come later if all goes well, if it develops well, where you really are connecting the different modules,” he said.
Kia showed off what that technology could look like in a video:
For now, the PV5’s modular construction will come into play during manufacturing, not ownership, Habib said. Kia will be able to slot a taxi, van, or pickup body onto the PV5 platform depending on what a particular customer orders, he said.
In theory, a vehicle with the kind of flexibility Kia imagines could address one of the big pain points of buying a car: Choosing one that can do everything. People often wind up buying way too much vehicle because of that one time a year they need to carry a bunch of stuff or drive off-road. In this new world of EVs, people demand 300 miles of range even though they rarely travel that far in one go.
Flexibility—in vehicle size, shape, and battery capacity—could allow buyers to make do with less, until they need more. Changing out your SUV body for a pickup is still far off, but Ample, a California startup, is already partnering up with car companies to offer battery-swapping services.
Kia isn’t the first to toy with this kind of concept. The 1980s Nissan Pulsar NX Sportbak could transform from a coupe into a wagon or pickup-type thing thanks to a removable, swappable rear hatch.
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