Published on November 8, 2023, 10:58 pm

South Korea-based Kia has announced plans to construct a dedicated plant for the production of battery-electric purpose-built vehicles (PBVs). The new facility, expected to have an annual output of 150,000 units in its first year, will be located in Kia’s Hwaseong facility in Gyeonggi Province. Mass production at the plant is set to begin in the second half of 2025.

This move is part of Hyundai Motor Group’s larger strategy to invest KRW24 trillion in the domestic electric vehicle industry by 2030. The aim is to position South Korea as one of the top three players in the global EV market. Ho Sung Song, president and CEO of Kia, emphasized their commitment to enhancing the competitiveness of the entire electric vehicle ecosystem and leading change and innovation in the automotive industry.

The upcoming PBV plant will be built using innovative manufacturing technologies with a focus on reducing carbon emissions. Kia plans to invest approximately USD 758 million to secure 99,000 acres of land for this eco-friendly facility. They will integrate Hyundai Motor and Kia E-FOREST initiatives for enhanced efficiency and intelligence. E-FOREST is a smart factory ecosystem that aims to optimize manufacturing systems and deliver customer value.

One notable manufacturing process that will be implemented at the new PBV plant is called the “cellular method.” This approach groups machines or workstations used for producing similar products or parts together, minimizing material travel distance during production. By optimizing material flow between workstations, downtime can be reduced, costs can be minimized, and productivity can be increased.

Additionally, Kia’s cutting-edge manufacturing system at the PBV plant combines the cell method with mass-production conveyor systems. This integration enables flexible production and customization across various product types. The aim is not only to boost productivity but also increase overall efficiency.

Kia has committed itself to constructing a low-carbon factory by incorporating nature-friendly construction methods such as operating a dry booth during the painting process to reduce carbon emissions by about 20% compared to existing factories. Other innovations include the use of automation, machine learning, and AI in facilities, painting quality inspection, and real-time automatic measurement quality data analysis.

The company’s goal is to create a human-friendly plant by automating heavy-duty work and tasks that require looking up at the ceiling while simultaneously providing an open and noise-reduced environment for employees.

As part of Kia’s PBV lineup, they plan to unveil SW (project name), their first model in the dedicated PBV series, in 2025. Based on the “eS” platform, which is designed specifically for battery electric PBVs, SW will be a mid-sized vehicle capable of adaptable combinations of various types of vehicle bodies. This flexibility makes it suitable for delivery services, ride-hailing purposes, B2B transactions, and more.

Kia’s future plans extend beyond mid-sized PBVs; they intend to expand their product lineup to include large-sized PBVs for logistics, fresh food delivery, multi-seat shuttles, mobile offices/stores, as well as small-sized PBVs and mid-sized robotaxis equipped with autonomous driving technology.

Kia’s investment in this new smart factory for PBV units showcases their commitment to advancing the electric vehicle industry in South Korea while also pushing boundaries in terms of innovation and sustainability. As Kia and Hyundai Motor Group set their sights on becoming major players in the global EV market, these developments pave the way for a greener automotive future.

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