South Korean carmaker Kia [000270:KS] and e-commerce platform Coupang [CPNG:US] have agreed to collaborate on building all-electric cargo trucks, as reported by the Korea Herald on April 15. By 2025, the two companies plan to release mid-sized and large electric cargo vehicles with improved storage, affordability, and safety. Kia will use its expertise in automotive technology and services to create purpose-built vehicles (PBVs) specifically for Coupang. In addition, the two businesses will work together to develop charging infrastructure and perform autonomous driving trials.
The agreement is part of Kia’s plan to become a global leader in PBV by 2030. According to Korea Economic Daily, the Bongo 3 EV, Kia’s one-ton electric truck, has sold 20,273 units as of 1Q22 since its introduction in January 2020. Meanwhile, other South Korean automakers, such as Kia’s sister company Hyundai [005380:KS], are bolstering their position in the PBV market. Hyundai’s Porter 2 Electric, a one-ton electric truck that debuted in late December 2019, has sold 28,973 units as of 1Q22. When oil costs in South Korea soared last year, the popularity of one-ton electric trucks skyrocketed. Porter 2 Electric and Bongo 3 EV sales nearly doubled last year, going from 14,394 in 2020 to 26,533 in 2021. Meanwhile, delivery companies that actively embrace ESG practices will drive demand for one-ton electric trucks even higher. Coupang hired specialists at the end of last year to devise a plan for bringing in green cars that run on electricity and hydrogen.