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Press Release

Kia establishes ‘Purple M’ start-up to accelerate EV mobility services

- Kia and CODE42.ai jointly invest in new start-up, using proprietary operating system to manage mobility services
- New start-up extends Kia’s footprint in growing Transportation as a Service (TaaS) sector
- Kia pursuing new business opportunities based on EV mobility

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

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 revitalization 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 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.”

The ‘M’ in ‘Mobility’

The ‘M’ in ‘Purple M’ stands for ‘mobility’; the purple in the start-up’s name symbolizes its desire to challenge convention and reimagine transportation for the future. In order to respond flexibly to the rapidly reorganizing mobility service industry, Purple M will benefit from a true start-up culture.  The company places rapid decision-making, a culture of horizontal communication, and challenging the status quo among its key operational values.

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 preemptive and enterprising ‘shift’ from a business system focused on internal combustion engines toward one centered on electric vehicles and customized mobility solutions. Under Plan S, Kia will innovate its brand and enhance profitability.