Kia recently hosted an online talk show called 'Plan S Live' for its employees. The show was to promote the company's plan called Plan S and its three specific agendas - EV business, Purpose Built Vehicle, and mobility solutions.
During the talk show, any employee would leave a comment asking about the company's mid-to-long-term future strategy, and then one of the six panels, all executives from general management, promotional strategy, new business, human resource, and other departments of the company would answer it. Here's what they shared during the show, and what people thought about their company's biggest business plan.
Q. Tell us how the company designed Plan S, and what does S stand for?
Dong-Su Shin, Vice President | The Plan S is to swiftly respond to fast-moving markets. In the past 20 years, we have always been a challenger. At first, we focused on implementing a quality management system. Then we moved to design-led management. And we grew to become the 8th biggest automaker in the world. But the situation is changing rapidly. The global economy is slowing down, and mobility service providers started to symbolize a shift away from personally-owned modes of transportation, and even non-automakers such as ICT (information and communications technology) companies began to make cars. The pie is no longer exclusive to the traditional automakers.
So, Kia should be more than just a fast-follower. Kia will achieve the popularization of EVs and initiate new mobility services. The letter S stands for 'shift'. This word literally symbolizes how fast we would respond to fast-moving markets.
Q. The three agendas of Plan S are EVs, PBVs, and mobility services. How would the company proceed with these agendas?
Dong-Su Shin, VP | Kia will achieve the popularization of EVs. To be specific, we need to broaden our innovation efforts beyond products. We will help build the EV ecosystem to dominate the market. It will also enter the PBV market that is expected to grow between the proliferation of e-commerce and various mobility services, eventually securing a new corporate client base there. This would be mainly because social distancing increased demand for e-commerce, and it pumped up the need for enhanced logistics. Lastly, we will build a hub that houses charging, maintenance, logistics, and convenience services so that we could provide our mobility services based on electric vehicles, especially in countries where environmental regulations are strict.
Q. Any difference between Tesla’s EV strategies?
Ki-Seok Ahn, VP | Tesla became the leading EV maker since its launch of Model S back in 2012. Kia aims to actively boost its eco-friendly EV production; we will manufacture much more diverse EVs than Tesla could.
Our future EV strategies include improving the quality to edge out all our competitors and making our EVs more affordable. We will soon be able to bring down Tesla, providing a wide range of networks for thorough customer services.’
Our future EV strategies include improving the range and charging speed, and making our EVs more affordable. Kia's first electric-only model will offer ranges over 500 kilometers on a single charge, which is similar to that of current ICEs. Also, Kia has succeeded in developing an 800-volt charging system that takes only 20 minutes to fully charge the battery, for the first time as a non-luxury car brand. This is 10 minutes faster than Tesla's Super Charger. Kia's electric vehicles will offer whole new interior design and user experience as well. Our competitive range, charging time, and EV-dedicated UX will help us dominate the future EV market.
In short, Kia's EV strategies include offering vehicles as strong as supercars, featuring satisfying price tags and unique interfaces to lead the global market.
Q. What would the EV-centered production system be like?
Eui-Chul Jeong, VP | We assume that we would run our PBV business mainly in developed countries since it is closely related to EVs, while we could slowly expand our EV lineups in emerging markets such as the Middle East, Asia-Pacific regions, or Central/South America, where Kia currently exports many of its vehicles to. This is because it would require more time and resources for them to fully facilitate EV infrastructures and initiate environmental regulations. Considering this, Kia will have to produce both EVs and ICEs for a while to meet all needs.
And to effectively respond to this, we are considering every single way, from building EV-dedicated factories to gradually changing the current production lines. Our factories will also become much smarter, being able to offer small batch production that manufactures many different kinds of mobilities. This will take a lot of work, such as modularization and prefabrication of components, more effective management strategies, and more improved processing efficiency. We are looking forward to collaborating with our best business partners for developing essential technologies and building an ideal testbed for all this.
Q. The export of Kia vehicles is 70 to 80 percent. Will there be any change on the company’s sales channels?
Joon-Tae Hong, VP | Through Plan S, the company will do its best to be proactive in the era of digitalization, offering seamless customer services in cooperation with our dealers. To elaborate further, let me tell you what we are doing in India. After we established our all-India ‘Click to Buy’ end-to-end online sales platform last year, multiple online dealerships named it 'a polished, premium online store' that offers a seamless, convenient retail experience. Also, Kia will offer live stream showrooms operated by dealers in eleven countries in Asia and the Middle East regions.
We seek to build a stronger relationship with our dealers for optimized channel profitability, improved offline/digital channels, and more diversified channel composition. And to achieve this goal, the company would try to offer such dealer-related mobility services so that we all could thrive together.
Q. PBV, one of the most important parts of Plan S, is becoming the future mobility. What would be the company’s plan for PBVs?
Dong-Soo Ahn, VP | Kia's PBV business has two main factors. Firstly, expanding car-sharing and e-commerce businesses in the Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV) market, mainly driven by corporate clients, will help the company grow, and social distancing that the Covid-19 crisis created will boost online sales and development of the autonomous driving system. The second is that megacities around the world are forcing mobility service providers to use EVs for environmental reasons.
Our PBV-related strategies tend to be as effective as possible. Firstly, Kia will actively modify its EVs, such as Niro or Soul, to use them in ride-hailing businesses or as taxis. At the same time, the company will create vehicles based on a PBV-dedicated platform for last-mile delivery services. And speaking of logistics businesses, micro-sized EVs and self-driving mini vehicles for delivery services are expected to be developed.
The company also has innovative solutions in sales methods. These PBV solutions include charging and maintaining the batteries, and enhancing service quality. Speaking of which, maintaining deterioration rates for the EV batteries has been one of the biggest obstacles of potential-EV buyers to overcome. Also, through fleet management services, the company could monitor the overall data for providing customized maintenance services.
Q. Even the profitability of global mobility service providers such as Uber or Lyft is yet to be proven, and how would Kia survive in this situation? And what would be the detailed strategy for the company’s mobility service?
Dong-Soo Ahn, VP | Speaking of our mobility businesses, there are mainly two reasons why Kia seeks to jump into mobility business; Kia has to diversify its business to distribute more EVs across big cities around the world. It will later help manufacturing PBVs, which would become highly profitable soon. Also, the company aims to operate self-driving robotaxis in the long run.
Kia has succeeded in creating the strategy sketch for its new business based on locations; Kia will collaborate with local partners for highly competitive mobility business, while actively responding to climate change and supporting EV popularization in Europe. For example, Kia launched its premium lineup subscription service ‘Kia Flex’ which targeted Korean customers, and on the other hand, the company launched its car-sharing service called 'Wible' in Madrid, Spain, to keep operating the business by enhancing cost-efficiency and service quality.
Kia is going to keep searching for ways to offer exclusive services, aside from its current mobility service. The company will collaborate with its subsidiaries but also other businesses to become more influential.
Q. Will there be organizational changes for executing Plan S?
Chun-Sung Kim, VP | I believe organizational change is a must. In a vertical, pyramidal top-down structure like ours, I don't think we would be able to make a creative working environment to survive the future. For our goal to succeed, the first change we must make is to have a faster and flexible decision-making process. All employees should be able to cast their creative ideas to proactively make the company's legacies.
Through a one-hour long 'Plan S Live' show, the employees talked about various issues that would entail the company's, and their own future. Plan S is their mid-to-long-term management plan to lead the future auto industry. And recently, they initiated a new service called 'Purple M', to reborn as a leader for the era of e-mobility.
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