Kia sets up Purple M start-up to accelerate EV mobility services

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 20 Jul 2020


L-R: Ho Sung Song, CEO and President of Kia and Chang Song, founder and CEO of CODE42.ai who will be chairman of Purple M.

Kia Motors Corporation has today announced the founding of ‘Purple M’, a new mobility service start-up designed to offer customised EV mobility services.

Purple M is a new joint venture created in partnership between Kia Motors and CODE42.ai, a Korean technology firm pioneering the transition to autonomous Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS). Through this new start-up, Kia and CODE42.ai plan to create new concepts for mobility services and realise a shared goal of leading innovation in future mobility.

The combination of Kia's global footprint and mobility expertise with CODE42.ai's unrivalled IT technology is expected to create a range of synergies for developing new TaaS services for customers. Purple M will use CODE42.ai’s proprietary 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.

"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."

Aiming to be an e-mobility first-mover
In spite of increasing consumer interest in EVs, mobility services are still driven primarily by internal combustion engine vehicles, creating opportunities for an EV mobility ‘first mover’. Purple M aims to establish a comprehensive and flexible e-mobility service platform, and lead the development of a sustainable EV ecosystem by deploying EVs.

Purple M 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. In particular, Purple M aims to contribute to the revitalisation of 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.

Through their investment in Purple M, Kia and CODE42.ai will strengthen their ongoing partnership, with each party appointing directors to the board. Chang Song, founder and CEO of CODE42.ai, will serve as chairman. Song’s extensive experience with global IT firms and insights into future industries will help lead innovation. Seo Young-wu, a former CEO of Poolus, a carpooling service start-up, is appointed as CEO of Purple M. Seo is considered the right person to successfully lead the company based on his invaluable experience operating mobility service businesses.

"Our goal is to accelerate the era of electric vehicles through Purple M," said Chang Song, founder and CEO of CODE42.ai who will serve as chairman of Purple M. "The integrated mobility and logistics platform UMOS will be central to building an e-mobility ecosystem encompassing everything from infrastructure to services."

The new start-up is expected to provide a model for collaboration between larger, well-established firms and smaller, younger companies in Korea, as the country seeks to establish a new start-up ecosystem to encourage technological innovation.

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

Plan S outlines Kia’s pre-emptive and enterprising ‘shift’ from a business system focused on internal combustion engines toward one centered on electric vehicles and customised mobility solutions. Under Plan S, Kia will innovate its brand and enhance profitability. Kia is targeting global annual sales of 500,000 EVs by 2026, and is aiming for more than 20 percent of its European sales to be fully-electric by this time.