The Kia electric vans - first PV5 spotted testing on the road | CAR Magazine

The Kia electric vans - first PV5 spotted testing on the road

Published: 11 July 2024

► First of the Kia electric vans spotted testing
► Brand showed multiple concepts at CES
► Three sizes of van coming, UK sales from 2026

The first Kia electric van – the PV5 – has been spotted testing on public roads for the first time.

In a hint at the sort of vehicle that Kia is targeting, it has been spotted alongside the Volkswagen ID.Buzz Cargo. Like the VW, the Kia PV5 is set to slot in between two of the established van categories, being slightly bigger than most of those classified as a small van but still not quite as large as a classic medium van.

However, Kia also had a Hyundai Staria out alongside the PV5, which gives another hint that the brand’s so-called PBV won’t be your average base-level workhorse white van when it launches in 2026.

The Kia PV5 has been spotted testing for the first time.

Instead, expect a high level of technology on board, such as drive-by-wire steering and braking, in-wheel motors and highly integrated electric features.

You said the first Kia van – are there more?

Kia revealed as many as five concept vehicles at the CES show in Las Vegas in January as it signalled serious intent to take on the world of electric vans.

The Korean brand hasn’t had any real involvement with the world of commercial vehicles in Europe, but it is looking to change that as it launches its new ‘Platform Beyond Vehicle’ business. And while lots of the early literature has talked about ‘PBVs’, these are light commercial vehicles (LCVs) or just vans in plain English and expect the UK marketing to reflect that.

It is doing far more than just talking about it, though, as it revealed three sizes of van at CES in Las Vegas, with the PV1, PV5 and PV7 shown in concept form, with a PV3 also planned for the future. As well as showing what the vehicles might look like, Kia also outlined how and when it intends to bring these vans to market and what sort of physical and software tech there will be behind them.

The vans will be able to integrate with one another.

Expect swappable tech and modular assembly so a vehicle can be changed easily and quickly from being a van during the week and a taxi at the weekend.

This suggests you will be able to tweak your Kia electric vans once you have bought it, should your business needs change over time.

Three vans, loads of vehicles

While there will be three fundamental van models, there is scope for many more shapes and sizes in the PBV range, as illustrated by the concept vehicles shown in Vegas. The vehicles are based on an adapted version of the same E-GMP platform under the EV6, but in two lengths and in a ‘skateboard’ style, which means they can be stretched and adapted.

The PV5 will be able to carry people as well as cargo.

The PV5 is the mid-size van, although it is slightly smaller the likes of the Ford E-Transit Custom. Instead, it’s more like a long-wheelbase Citroen Berlingo or a VW ID.Buzz Cargo.

In a bid to show the flexibility of the architecture, there are several versions of the vehicle on display, with a high-roof model, a people-carrying minibus, a self-driving Robotaxi and even a pick-up truck. Alongside all these is a standard-roof panel van on the stand, which is the model that will form the core of the range, if the PV5 is anything like the rest of the van market.

This version is around 4.7m long, so fractionally shorter than the Ford, and is set to be offered with front-wheel drive. A longer-wheelbase version is possible for the future, though.

There are some clever-looking touches on the various vehicles, with the high-roof model offering enough space and height for a driver to walk through from the cabin to the loading bay. The people-carrier comes with features such as seats that be configured in various layouts and a sliding see-through partition that divides the cabin from the main seating area in the rear.

The space for the passenger seat is given over to storage in the concepts.

The PV5 is tall enough for passengers to stand up in.

Also on show were a PV1 and PV7 concept, with the latter a larger medium van that will measure around 5m to 5.7m in length. There is little information on exactly how big it is in terms of carrying capacity or how much payload it can take, but it is said to be the largest model in the planned range and is ‘defined by more space, greater distance, and enhanced functionalities.’

It is set to launch with a front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive version.

The PV1, as the name suggests, is the smallest concept on show, but it is even smaller than the conventional small-van class – it is better seen as a last-mile delivery vehicle, similar to the likes of the Citroen Ami. However, this is very much a pie-in-the-sky vehicle for the UK, as it is a self-driving vehicle that is unlikely to be legal on UK roads.

Van range promises high level of tech on board.

It has some very clever features, though – the loading floor is the same height as the other vans, so anything loaded in can slide from the bigger vehicle to the PV1. It also has a tiny turning circle which is achieved by rotating the wheels around so it can spin on its axis.

There is also a pick-up truck on show, but Kia says this is more of an exploration of what is possible rather than a confirmed model. What is going to come is a PV3, which will be a smaller van – more of a rival to the likes of the Ford Transit Courier.

However, Kia has not said when this will be launched yet and is yet to show a physical vehicle, even in concept form. Instead it appeared as an image on a screen, just briefly, at a presentation in Las Vegas.

More than just boxes on wheels

Given that Kia is launching a range of commercial vehicles with a completely blank sheet, it is little surprise that it is looking to provide more than a selection of basic vans.

There is scope for customisation in various forms, partly courtesy of its so-called ‘PBV Ecosystem.’ This is a posh way of describing the racking and storage possibilities in the rear loading bay, which come via an integrated rail system on the floor, ceiling and internal side walls.

There is potential for lots of customisation in the Kia van range.

This means that items such as cabinets and frames for internal racking and storage solutions can be easily swapped in and out of various vehicles. By offering such features from the factory, this could remove the need for many customers to head straight to a third-party to get a load of systems fitted in the back as soon as they have bought their van.

However, it is not yet clear whether buyers will be able to fix in the sort of racking that they have been using in vehicles for many years – plenty of van owners will transfer the fixtures and fittings from their old vehicle to a new one when they replace it.

The current plan is for the PV5 to be front-wheel drive only, while the PV7 will be front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.

When can we buy the Kia PBVs? Sorry, the Kia electric vans?

Despite Kia’s standing start, we shouldn’t have long to wait until the brand’s electric vans head out to the market. The first PV5 model was originally planned to come as soon as 2025 however, this has now been pushed back to 2026. Production

While UK pricing has not yet been set, Kia has said that the PV5 will start at around 35,000 Euros (£30,090) when it goes on sale.

It will also come with some of the high-speed charging abilities of the Kia EV6. The PV5 is likely to offer 400V capability, while the PV7 will up this to 800V.

Self-driving tech and software are all part of the planned future.

It has said that it sees there being three phases to the PBV rollout, with the PV5 set to be the first model to go on sale, followed by the PV7.

As well as the PV5, phase one will also see the launch of some of the software that will be supporting the vehicles.

Phase two will be between 2027 and 2032 and bring the PV7 in 2027. The PV1 will follow in 2028 where it is legally permitted. This phase will then bring more connectivity and the PBV Ecosystem that will allow the vehicles to swap cargo between each other.

What does the future hold for the PBVs?

Phase three is less defined at this stage in terms of precise vehicles or products, but this is when Kia is saying it expects to be able to add the sort of future tech that isn’t possible right now – a greater degree of self-driving ability, robotics, Artificial Intelligence and even Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). This is currently set as being from 2032 onwards.

The AAM ecosystem is being developed by Supernal, which is looking at the mobility possibilities that could be available, while Boston Dynamics is looking at what could be done with robotics.

By Tom Webster

Vans editor across CAR and our sister brand