Kia is recycling the old Niro as a small delivery car and taxi.
Kia recently introduced the Niro Plus, which it says is its first-ever "purpose-built vehicle," or PBV. We were under the impression that every Kia had a purpose, but there you go. The purpose of the Niro Plus is to provide sustainable mobility solutions that help people and businesses move beyond traditional automotive solutions.
In this case, the Niro Plus will be sold in South Korea as a general model and zero-emission taxi. To make it more affordable for this application, Kia used the first-generation Niro as a starting point and made it more suitable for car-hailing services. It's not based on the all-new, recently unveiled Niro EV. Earlier this year, Kia introduced the Ray Van, a single-seater delivery vehicle for small cargo delivery services.
Kia is one of the first manufacturers to fill the gap for EV commercial vehicles. Rivian also famously received a load of cash from Amazon to design an EV delivery van, and Mercedes-Benz is also investing heavily in EV vans.
However, Kia plans to become the market leader by 2030, and selling cheap PBVs based on older platforms is an excellent way to start. In addition to the Niro Plus, Kia is also building a dedicated platform upon which PBVs of different shapes and sizes can sit, meeting evolving customer needs and market trends. Kia expects the global PBV market to mature by 2025, and by then, the dedicated platform will be ready to deploy.
"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. The Niro Plus is our first step into the world of PBVs, a market that holds great potential for future development," said Sangdae Kim, head of Kia's eLCV Business Division.
Kia will offer both a Niro Plus and a Niro Plus taxi. Kia plans to sell the regular Plus to private owners who can use it for personal and business purposes. The idea is to use it as a small delivery vehicle, given the recent growth in the e-commerce market following the COVID-19 pandemic.
As mentioned earlier, the Niro Plus taxi is based on the previous-generation Niro. To increase the interior room, Kia increased the length by almost 0.4 inches and the height by just over three inches. Kia also made the seats thinner to further increase interior space.
The taxi also comes as standard with a digital display running model-specific software, including navigation, app taximeter, digital tachograph, and voice recognition. The system will also include data on relevant points of interest and locations of nearby EV charging stations. The non-taxi model will eventually be sold in other countries as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid.