Kia has revealed its first purpose-built vehicle or PBV and it’s based on the previous generation Niro EV. Called the Kia Niro Plus, it’s essentially the outgoing car modified with a taller roofline and a rear end that’s completely vertical. It will be tailored specifically as a general model or a zero-emission taxi in Korea. This model is the first model in Kia’s PBV plans and it intends to become a segment leader in this field by 2030.
The Kia Niro Plus was developed specifically for ride-hailing services. A dedicated PBV model will arrive in 2025, the year Kia expects that market to mature. It will be similar in size to a mid-size vehicle and will be inherently scalable thanks to a dedicated platform. “Kia is transforming its business strategy to focus on popularizing EVs, and introducing new mobility products that are tailored to the needs of users in markets around the world,” said Sangdae Kim, Head of the eLCV Business Division at Kia. “The Niro Plus is our first step into the world of PBVs, a market that holds great potential for future development.”
For Korean taxi operators, the Niro Plus has essentially been grown by 0.3 inches in length and 3.4 in height. Together with slimmed-down structures, this gives occupants more space in the cabin. The taxi model also has thinner seats and door trim versus the standard first-generation Niro EV. Additional passenger safety and convenience features like door reflectors and assist handles will be made available to all versions of the Niro Plus. Taxi models get an all-in-one display for improved convenience and driver safety. This will show all relevant information for taxi drivers to do their work like navigation, app taximeter, a digital tachograph, and voice recognition. It will also include data on specific points of interest, and locations of nearby charging stations. Kia also plans to offer over-the-air (OTA) updates and services in partnership with local and national businesses.
The Niro Plus is part of Kia’s goal to become a provider of sustainable mobility and a leader in PBV development. In addition to taxi and ride-hailing versions, the Niro Plus will also be made available for private consumers to use for business and recreational purposes. Kia says that it sees owners using the vehicle for work during the week and leisure activities during the weekend. It will be available in select global markets during the second half of the year.
Depending on the market, the retail version of the Niro Plus will be available as a battery-electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid. The former has been shown first and will likely retain the same single-motor configuration with a 64-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and around 201 hp. On a single charge, the outgoing car can travel up to 239 miles; however, expect the Niro Plus to not go as far because its modifications have likely affected its aerodynamic performance.
In PHEV guise, the Kia Niro Plus should retain the same powertrain as the outgoing vehicle. That couples a 1.6-liter four-cylinder to an electric motor, an 8.9-kWh lithium-ion battery, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The combined output should remain at 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Like the fully electric version, expect this to be less efficient and have a shorter all-electric range than the standard iteration of the outgoing Niro PHEV.