Kia Corporation has begun to lay the groundwork for its innovative Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV) business, partnering with cold chain start-up ‘S.lab Asia Inc.’ to break into Singapore’s last-mile delivery market.
On 28 January, the two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at launching a pilot project in Singapore using the e-Niro and evaluating the potential for a future PBV-based business model.
The e-Niro model optimised and modified for last-mile logistics service will be used in Singapore’s city centre, in the process responding to the needs of the rapidly growing e-commerce market. In addition, the strategic model will also help strengthen the PBV capabilities and service operations of both partners.
“Through this agreement, Kia will leave a strong image of itself as a collaborative partner providing new value to global mobility service companies,” said DongSoo Ahn, Vice President and Head of the PBV Business Group at Kia Corporation. “Kia will strive to lead the global PBV market by establishing partnerships with various operators through not only last-mile delivery services but also various open-innovation collaborations.”
Purpose built vehicles – the development of which forms the core of Kia’s mid- to long-term business strategy, known as “Plan S” – are vehicles that are designed for specific applications, such as last-mile delivery, autonomous shuttles and chauffeur-driven luxury vehicles. In terms of Kia’s pilot PBV venture, ‘last-mile delivery service’ refers to the last leg of a product’s delivery from a warehouse hub to a customer, with a focus on maximising delivery quality and service differentiation.
S.lab Asia is a start-up that produces special boxes for cold-chain fresh product deliveries and offers advanced delivery services. It is currently building a logistics network that will sell and distribute fresh products to Korea and Southeast Asia.
As Kia’s next-generation PBVs are currently undergoing final product development and optimisation, Kia, in cooperation with S.lab Asia, will use the e-Niro with a modified interior for the ease of unloading and uploading S.lab Asia’s boxes with a maximum loading space. The operations will begin in Singapore in the first half of this year, during which Kia will assess and advance its PBV business model, including product and service aspects, by applying the real-world lessons learned from utilising the modified e-Niro in Singapore.
Through the pioneering scheme, Kia will gain core PBV project competencies and experiences, including: developing EV-based PBVs that are optimised for last-mile delivery; advancing the Car as a Service (CaaS) platform for fleets and leasing needs; establishing an EV-charging ecosystem; and creating an EV fleet management services structure.