Future Cars That are Electric, Self-Driving and as Customizable as Legos? Kia Is Building It!

Kia's 'Platform Beyond Vehicle' allows owners to customize electric car components for whatever you need. And, this future car is now: it's coming next year.

The Kia Platform Beyond Vehicle Is Groundbreaking.
The Kia Platform Beyond Vehicle is groundbreaking. Photo: Liv Leigh

They call it “Platform Beyond Vehicle” and it’s Going to Change How We Get Around

What if future cars could change the number of seats for what you need at the moment, and add or subtract them as you need them, or don’t? Or you could easily and inexpensively add a wheel chair lift? Or you could move the seats around to create space for cargo, or to take a nap – in a self driving car? And then, there’s the brass ring that’s been circling around in front of us for years: cars that can drive themselves, and us, when we want.

That was the idea that took center stage at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a proving ground for a whole lot of new car tech. To me, no one idea stood out more than Kia‘s Platform Beyond Vehicle (PBV). Kia revealed a whole new type of car that will go “beyond mobility” to provide customized vehicles on a flexible platform that opens up limitless possibilities.

Kia’s ambitious plan is a whole new business that might exchange compromise for customization. And, it’s not some distant future dream. The company is bringing this idea to market next year.

Related: Kia EV9: The Family Electric SUV We’ve Been Waiting For

Kia Platform Beyond Vehicle Future Cars And Self Driving Cars

The modular chassis will use magnetic and mechanical coupling to switch cabins. Photo: Liv Leigh

The PV5 May Come Ready with a Wheelchair Lift in the Kia PBV

I sat in the front row of their grand press conference, excited but not expecting that much. Boy, was I wrong. Kia not only announced their innovative Platform Beyond Vehicle business plan, but they also debuted FIVE concept vehicles based on the platform, showing off its incredible versatility. Three of these concepts are based on the PV5 model, which is about the size of a compact SUV and is scheduled to enter the market in 2025.

Related: Kia EV6 GT Takes Power to the Next Level

Kia Platform Beyond Vehicle Wheelchair Lift In Action In Future Cars

We got multiple demos of the wheelchair lift in action. Photo: Liv Leigh

It May Sound Futuristic, But PBV is Coming in 2025

Think of the Kia Platform Beyond Vehicle platform as a blank canvas that the carmaker intends to be customizable for various businesses and lifestyles and can adapt to the user’s needs. And here comes the most exciting part (for me, at least). They’ve already planned for wheelchair accessibility and had a functioning wheelchair lift incorporated into their demo PV5 on the CES floor. Considering the fact that adapting a vehicle to be wheelchair accessible can often cost more than the vehicle itself, this is GROUNDBREAKING. I cannot tell you enough how thrilled I am that Kia is designing these vehicles to be accessible from the ground up, and I wish more automakers did this.

Related: This May be the Most Awesome Set of Wheels Ever – Meet the Scewo Bro Power Wheelchair

The Kia Platform Beyond Vehicle Is Groundbreaking For Future Cars

The Kia Platform Beyond Vehicle is groundbreaking. Photo: Liv Leigh

Key Phases in the Kia Platform Beyond Mobility Plan — Including the Self Driving Car!

This new vision isn’t just a vague dream. Kia presented a 3 phase plan to bring it to reality.

Phase 1:

This first phase unveils the PV5, a flexible electric vehicle designed for key areas like ride-hailing, delivery, and utility services. Its unique convertibility adapts to various customer demands. Advanced data connections link vehicles with external information like routes and deliveries, simplifying the operation of entire software-defined fleets, minimizing downtime, and maximizing cost-efficiency.

Phase 2:

This will bring about the completion of the full Platform Beyond Vehicle lineup, and we will see the vehicles expand into AI-based mobility platforms that provide a constantly up-to-date, seamless experience across platforms.

Phase 3:

This is where it gets crazy. Literally, it feels like we’re in a sci-fi movie envisioning a fantastic future. Perhaps that’s partially true, as Kia is envisioning our future, but with such a cohesive plan, it feels possible. In Phase 3 the PBV models will evolve into customized mobility solutions part of an inspired ecosystem of self-driving life platforms. As in, get in, set your destination, let the car do the driving. Crazy right? I can’t believe I just wrote the words ‘self-driving life platforms’ when writing about reality.

Kia Platform Beyond Vehicle

This hailing PV5 has an open cabin that prioritizes space and functionality in Kia’s Platform Beyond Vehicle goals. Photo: Liv Leigh

Future Cars Will Need Diverse Solutions

I toured their main display with Kia’s Head of Future Design, Wonkyu Kang, as he shared some of their PBV vision. He spoke of how gas-powered cars were the era of optimization. You get improvements, little by little, incremental improvements, mechanical improvements. But in the era of EVs, it is very different. At a certain level, it will be harder to differentiate in terms of performance. Automakers will be using more or less the same battery cell technology, and the same levels of optimization will be possible with the same motors.

Platform Beyond Vehicle

Kia’s Platform Beyond Mobility demonstration showed the easy swap between a van and a truck. Photo: Liv Leigh

Easy Swap Technology Will Allow You to Have Multiple Cars in One

It reminded me of the feeling I have when getting a new phone. Back in the day, it used to be quite exciting to see what new phone came out. Would it flip open? Would the keyboard pop out? Now, for the most part, we just have rectangles, and we upgrade to the newest, fastest rectangle that is pretty much equal to the other rectangles. Of course, we also have folding phones now…but allow me my analogy. So, looking at a future of electric vehicles with little delineation, Kia’s Platform Beyond Vehicle is even more intriguing. Kia stands out from vehicles that are focused on incremental improvements and instead presents an ecosystem that focuses “beyond.”

Kia Platform Beyond Vehicle

Future plans for the Kia Platform Beyond Mobility involve dynamic moving living spaces. Photo: Liv Leigh

The Platform Beyond Vehicle Idea Includes Moving Living Spaces

Wonkyu explained how Kia has actualized the goals of this ecosystem in the design of the PV5, which is about 80-85% identical to what we can expect to see on the market in 2025. Electric vehicles house the battery in the floor, and they utilize this to their utmost advantage, pushing the wheels as far away from each other as they can, making the entire floor completely flat, expanding upon the expansive interior space, and thus allowing for the immense flexibility that we’ve seen like my beloved wheelchair lift. If you wish, the rear seats can fold and slide backward or forward to create a completely customized space on the fly.

Kia Platform Beyond Mobility Future Cars

Passenger seating can fold and be slid forward or backward for complete flexibility. Photo: Liv Leigh

The Materials are Warm and Welcoming, like a Living Room

Kia doesn’t just want to make electric cars for driving. These vehicles will operate as extended living spaces, and they bring that intention into every aspect of the design. The materials and colors, both on the inside and out, are welcoming and friendly. We want it to be “simple, solid, and intuitive.” said Wonkyu, “it is meant to make your life more beneficial, easier, more convenient.” They enhance the warmth of the eco-friendly materials with warm ambient lighting to create an inviting, comfortable interior, like a home or office.

Platform Beyond Mobility Kia

Powered rails on the inside and outside allow for easy attachment of electronics. Photo: Liv Leigh

The PBV Ecosystem Includes Rideshare and Last-mile Vehicles

The PV5 concept is filled with incredibly useful features. In the ride share version, your name could be displayed on the front of the vehicle, removing any confusion as to what car you’re supposed to be hopping into. The steering wheel folds flat at the press of a button to give the driver a tabletop when they’re parked and taking a break. Instead of saving space for a front passenger’s legs, that entire area is dedicated to storage for the driver, addressing an important need for the person who will be spending their days in this vehicle. Powered rails line the interior and exterior, allowing you to attach outlets or powered items like speakers wherever you want and then even pop them on the rail outside when you are parked and utilizing the exterior space of the car.

Interest in PBV is so hot that in the weeks since the CES show, Kia and Uber officially signed a deal committing to their collaboration on Platform Beyond Vehicle development and deployment. Uber has vowed to achieve zero emissions by 2040, so this is definitely a part of both companies’ plans to “transform mobility.”

Kia Platform Beyond Mobility

The little PV1 will address last-mile delivery. Photo: Liv Leigh

Future Cars Means Customizing Instead of Compromising

One of the ways that the PBV platform is uniquely and innovatively flexible is through its “Easy Swap” technology, which will literally allow a single chassis to be used for a variety of mobility needs. The space behind the fixed “driver zone’ can be swapped out via magnets and mechanical coupling. I have so many questions about how this will actualize, but we will have to wait and see it evolve for now. We’ve been focusing on the PV5, but we also saw the little PV1 on the CES floor as it demoed “last-mile delivery.”

Suffice it to say, Kia’s Platform Beyond Vehicle business proposes a completely new way of looking at vehicles. I, for one, can’t wait to see how it pans out. Perhaps we can look forward to a future of limitlessly customized cars that suit us, our families, and our lifestyles perfectly.

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An enthusiastic supporter of everything she’s passionate about, Liv got her first Electric Car and immediately made a YouTube... More about Liv Leigh