They’re small, they ride on miniaturized platforms, and they called PBVs, which is shorthand for Purpose Built Vehicle. It’s an idea that’s been gestating as both manufacturers and end users are gradually redefining what constitutes a ethically sound fleet vehicle for use in urban areas where, in some cases, people are trying to dissuade vehicle use entirely. If you can imagine the Taxi and Limousine Commission in New York City trying to figure out what a yellow cab’s going to look like now that the Ford Crown Victoria is no more, you’re getting the idea. Kia’s entry in this new school of fleet thought exists in the form of the little Niro Plus, which is about to make a significant dent in South Korea’s urban vehicle population.
See what we mean about the PBV being a really diminutive vehicle? A Niro Plus could assign Chevrolet Silverado proportions to a Honda Fit, comparatively speaking. Kia plans to build battery electric vehicle (BEV, for short), plug-in hybrid and full hybrid versions of the Niro Plus, some destined for pure taxi use in Seoul and elsewhere, before Kia released its first purpose-built PBV to the global marketplace in 2025. The PBV is a space- and emissions-reducing solution to things like zero-pollution ride hailing on city streets. So someday, when you call for an Uber or Lyft pickup on your smartphone, a Niro Plus could very well be the vehicle that shows up.