Kia has announced a new plant dedicated to producing all-electric purpose built vehicles as part of a groundbreaking ceremony at its Hwaseong plant in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea.
Representing an investment of around $758 million (one trillion won), Kia is expecting the plant to commence mass production in the second half of 2025. In its first year, it plans for the plant to produce 150,000 units with the potential for expansion in line with future market conditions. The new facility will be developed as an eco-friendly plant, integrating new manufacturing technologies while minimizing emissions. Support from Kia and Hyundai’s smart factory brand E-Forest Technologies will help enhance its efficiency while providing digital manufacturing systems.
The groundbreaking ceremony also saw the Hyundai Motor Group outline a new strategy, aiming to become a top three EV manufacturer before 2030 through the combined sales of its three brands – Hyundai Motor, Kia, and Genesis. In achieving this goal, Hyundai Motor, Kia, and Hyundai Mobis announced a $18 billion (KRW 24 trillion) investment in the domestic EV sector. While supporting various activities, the investment will help the Group expand its annual EV production capacity in Korea to 1.51 million units, and its global volume to 3.64 million globally, by 2030.
At the plant, a new ‘cellular method’ will enable vehicle production practices based on a variety of diverse customer demands. The method is ultimately a process layout strategy that groups together machines or workstations that are used to produce similar products or parts. Its goal is to create a more efficient and flexible manufacturing process by reducing the distance that materials and products need to travel during production. Through this method, machines are arranged in an order that optimizes the flow of materials and products between workstations – minimizing downtime, reducing costs, and increasing productivity.
The PBV plant’s manufacturing system combines the new cell method with a conventional mass-production conveyor system to allow for flexible production with greater customization of various product types. In reducing its carbon emissions, the plant will also implement a dry booth – a construction method that reduces emissions during the vehicle painting process. Kia similarly expects a 20% reduction in carbon emissions by leveraging natural light and more broadly streamlining the manufacturing process.
Accompanying these new methods is a variety of newly automated processes. Here, the plant’s facilities will be automated using machine learning and AI, with automation for processes such as the painting quality inspection under the vehicle and the installation of glass and vehicle branding, An automatic measurement quality data analysis will work to autonomously correct and install the vehicle body in real time.
While announcing the plant, Kia also detailed its plans to showcase the first model in its dedicated PBV lineup, codenamed SW, in 2025. The model will be a mid-sized PBV based on the ‘eS’ platform, Kia’s dedicated platform its EVs in the segment. With SW, the brand is looking to address various business demands, including delivery, ride hailing, and B2B transactions – pointing to its load structure and interior space as initial solutions. Following the launch of SW, Kia will then introduce new, large-sized, PBVs to its product lineup designed for logistics, fresh food delivery, multi-seat shuttles, while also serving as mobile offices and stores. These will exist in a line-up alongside alongside smaller PBVs and mid-sized robotaxis.