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Kia launches ‘Purple M’ JV to create EV mobility pioneer

Kia is accelerating its work in e-mobility with the launch of a new start-up firm focused on developing Transportation as a Service (TaaS) services based on electric vehicles.

Kia said the new JV is part of its work to pursue new business opportunities based on EV mobility

Created as a joint venture with Korean technology firm Code42.ai, the new business has been named Purple M – with the M standing for mobility while purple is intended to symbolise its desire to challenge convention and reimagine transportation for the future.

The JV will team up the carmaker’s global presence and expanding work in mobility – in particular EVs – with Code42.ai’s Urban Mobility Operating System (UMOS), a comprehensive mobility platform which integrates autonomous vehicle and air transportation services including e-hailing, fleet management, demand-responsive shuttle and smart logistics.

Mobility partnerships are nothing new these days – Daimler and BMW announced in spring 2018 that they were planning to combine their mobility offerings and more recently Toyota revealed plans to launch its Kinto brand for mobility services in Europe as part of its strategy to transition from a car-making to a mobility company; plans that also saw the brand announce late last year that it’s acquiring full-service leasing provider Inchcape Fleet Solutions.

However, while the Purple M partnership will create new concepts for mobility services, they will be focused on e-mobility; the firms say that current mobility solutions are still dominated by internal combustion engine vehicles, giving rise to opportunities for an EV mobility ‘first mover’.

Earlier this year, Kia revealed its ‘Plan S’ strategy, covering the mid- to long-term and aimed at progressively establishing a leadership position in the future automotive industry, encompassing mobility services and vehicle electrification, connectivity and autonomy.

“With the newly established ‘Purple M’, Kia will be reborn as a leader for the era of e-mobility,” said Ho Sung Song, CEO and president of Kia. “Code42.ai is a leading Korean company in the field of future innovation technology, and is the best partner for successfully promoting a differentiated e-mobility service business.”

The JV will establish collaborative partnerships with specialist providers to develop a flexible e-mobility infrastructure and offer a wide range of services to a broad customer base. This includes revitalising Korea’s domestic mobility industry by cooperating with various mobility market players, while presenting new standards for mobility business models in the post-coronavirus era.

Both parties have appointed directors to the board. Chang Song, founder and CEO of CODE42.ai, will serve as chairman, while Seo Young-wu, a former CEO of Poolus, a carpooling service start-up, is appointed as CEO.

“Our goal is to accelerate the era of electric vehicles through ‘Purple M’,” said Chang Song of Code42.ai. “The integrated mobility and logistics platform UMOS will be central to building an e-mobility ecosystem encompassing everything from infrastructure to services.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.