Kia Motors, and the Hyundai Motor Group overall, have been in talks of developing and producing purpose-built vehicles (PBVs) in the coming years. Although PBVs sound very interesting concepts, automated Chinese takeout delivery vans, revolutionary for the food truck industry, but also mobile hubs for social gatherings. However, after the pandemic, social distancing is still recommended and the Coronavirus is still going to affect people over the coming months, maybe years. Even with the first PBVs designed to help with patients’ transportation and delivery services, along with other medical needs, we may not want to hold our breath.
Kia Motors’ new Design Chief Karim Habib spoke with Car Magazine about the future design of vehicles. Before the pandemic hit, the auto industry was working towards an ecosystem of mobility where everyone and anyone could get access to private or public transportation. Instead, private may be the way to go, with people less likely to risk their or their family’s health by having a lot of people in a car at once, which could greatly affect SUV sales. With many fit to seat more than five people at once, social distancing is impossible, and anyone stressed about getting infected might be in for an uncomfortable trip.
“We’re going to have talks with psychologists and anthropologists to really understand how the public’s psyche is going to be in future…There are things we’ve already been talking about: can we have anti-viral coatings in our interiors? Can you use temperature or ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces? These are things that we will have to think about rather soon. So, yes – Covid-19 will very much influence the way we design our cars in future.” – Habib told Car Magazine
Last month, we talked about the many developments coming from Kia Motors, PBVs included, but the automaker is also discussing shifting to the development of sedans, or vehicles made to seat less than 5 passengers. It may sound a little crazy, especially given all of the success of the Kia Telluride. The Telluride is Kia Motors largest SUV and won many awards – the Kia Telluride even won the Triple Crown of Automotive awards, winning the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year from North American Car of the Year (NACTOY); MotorTrend SUV of the Year; and landing on a Car and Driver 10 Best list. The Kia Seltos is also a strong contender when it comes to the larger vehicles, although the latter seats only five.
In late May, Kia Motors announced a new plan. With sedans like the Kia Stinger getting a mid-cycle refresh and a growing GT line from Kia Motors, the shift might lead to even smaller cars. Micro EVs may be next on the menu if trends prove to be worrisome for larger vehicles in the coming years. Consumers are concerned about the spread of germs and auto manufacturers are finding ways to tackle the spread of viruses, going so far as to design interior surfaces with virus-resisting materials, such as copper. However, overhauling the design for vehicles could cost automakers even more problems to deal with. Perhaps just focusing on smaller designs may be the better plan.
What do you think? Would you rather smaller cars with the way the world is handling the pandemic or do you still prefer your larger car? Let us know on Miami Lakes Kia social media.