South Korean manufacturer Kia is entering the mainstream van market for the first time with an all-new and comprehensive line-up of electric models designed to challenge the existing players. The first ones should arrive in the UK by 2027. 

Production is scheduled to start during the second half of 2025 at a purpose-built factory in South Korea soon to be under construction. It should build 150,000 vehicles in its first full year – 2026 – says Kia, and could expands in line with marketplace demand. 

The first model to roll out of the factory gates will be a mid-sized van currently referred to as Project SW. Due for launch in 2025, it will be based on the company’s eS skateboard-style electric platform designed to accommodate different types of body. 

More details of the newcomer have yet to be revealed, but it could be a potential rival to VW’s all-electric ID. Buzz Cargo. 

A larger model aimed at the home delivery market among other sectors will follow along with a smaller van. Kia is also busy developing self-driving technology, which could find a role in people-carrying models used for taxi work.  

An electric pick-up could also be in the pipeline. 

A challenge for Kia will be attuning its network of car dealers to the needs of the light commercial sector, and to the importance of conversions. Vans may require ply linings and racking for their load areas, and in some cases will have to be equipped with insulation and refrigeration units so they can transport chilled and frozen food, or pharmaceuticals. 

“So far as the UK is concerned Kia’s best bet may be to designate, say, 40 to 50 of its dealers as van centres in the first instance with trained salespeople and technicians and a decent level of stock rather than ask all of its outlets to commit to light commercials given their lack of experience,” said an industry insider. “It shouldn’t try to run before it can walk, and taking a lesson or two from what Toyota is achieving in the van market wouldn’t do it any harm at all.”