Kia reveals Niro Plus as purpose-built electric vehicle
03 May 2022
Kia is positioning itself as a sustainable mobility-solutions provider and has recently launched its first ‘purpose-built vehicle’ (PBV), the Niro Plus. The electric vehicle (EV) will be used as a zero-emission taxi in South Korea, with the carmaker expecting the model to form an important part of future transportation.
The company wants to roll out a dedicated lineup of PBVs by 2025, aiming to become a market leader in this segment by the end of the decade. Until then, the manufacturer will modify existing models for specific purposes.
The Niro Plus has been specifically tailored to taxi and ride-hailing operators, but it can also be used as a regular model for private consumers for recreational purposes, including camping trips. Kia first revealed the all-new Niro at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show in November 2021.
A non-taxi version of the Niro Plus will be available in select overseas markets in the second half of 2022. The car will be offered as a battery-electric vehicle (BEV), a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV).
To show Kia’s commitment to more environmentally-friendly car production, the electric vehicle uses sustainable materials developed from recycled wallpaper, eucalyptus leaves, and water-based paint. Kia intends to expand the range of eco-friendly materials, including plans to phase out animal leather in all vehicles.
New mobility products
‘Kia is transforming its business strategy to focus on popularising EVs and introducing new mobility products that are tailored to the needs of users in markets around the world,’ said Sangdae Kim, head of Kia eLCV business division. ‘The Niro Plus is our first step into the world of PBVs, a market that holds great potential for future development.’
The introduction of the Niro Plus follows the launch of the Ray Van in February, which has been described as South Korea’s first single-seater van designed to meet the growing demand for small-cargo delivery services.
Kia’s first dedicated purpose-built vehicle in 2025 will likely be a mid-sized vehicle, with the Niro Plus helping Kia transition to an eco-friendlier mobility provider. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for delivery and logistics services, with Kia aiming to grow its range from micro to large PBVs that can offer an alternative to public transportation. The carmaker even envisages its vehicles to serve as mobile offices.
Based on the first generation of the Niro crossover EV, the Niro Plus taxi model features additional enhancements. The length and height of the Niro Plus taxi model have increased by 10mm and 80mm respectively. The cabin space is larger, thanks to slimmed-down structures and thinner seats. The all-in-one display has also been improved, with Kia planning to offer over-the-air (OTA) updates and services.
As part of Kia’s aim to become a sustainable-mobility provider, the carmaker has also signed a seven-year partnership with green NGO The Ocean Cleanup, which is developing technologies to remove plastics from the world’s oceans.
The partnership is one of Kia’s corporate strategies to drive sustainability efforts, with the carmaker aiming to increase the percentage of recycled plastic to 20% by 2030. Kia will provide financial support to the NGO, backing ocean and river clean-up projects. Retrieved plastics will then find their way into Kia products.
‘Plastic is not inherently a bad material, but we must use it responsibly,’ said Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. ‘We provide proof that recycled plastic can be used sustainably.’
Kia’s parent company Hyundai is supporting similar causes. The carmaker has partnered with green organisation Healthy Seas to tackle marine pollution, planning to use the nylon found in recycled fishing nets to equip vehicles with more sustainable products.