The new Kia EV3 will have an AI assistant with ChatGPT DNA

The Kia EV3 — the new all-electric compact SUV revealed Thursday — illustrates a growing appetite among global automakers to bring generative AI into their vehicles.

The automaker said the Kia EV3 will feature a new voice assistant that is built off ChatGPT, the text-generating AI chatbot developed by OpenAI. The Kia EV3, and its AI assistant, will first come to market in Korea in July 2024, followed by Europe in the second half of the year. Kia expects to expand sales of the vehicle into other regions following the European launch. It will eventually come to the United States, although the automaker did not provide a date.

This isn’t, however, a pure OpenAI affair. Kia had its hands in the development of the voice assistant too.

Pablo Martinez, Kia’s head of customer experience design, explained that while the large language model (LLM) behind the AI assistant is ChatGPT, it has been “heavily modified” and customized by the automaker. These modifications were made to allow customers to plan trips, control the vehicle and find entertainment, including music or games, all through the new Kia assistant, Martinez said during a media briefing ahead of the reveal.

Kia EV3 interior
Kia EV3 interior

Voice assistants in vehicles aren’t new. But the experience for drivers ranges between useless and omg-why-am-I-screaming-at-my-car. Automakers like BMW, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen have argued that generative AI will make voice assistants far more capable and give them the ability to engage with drivers and passengers in a natural, conversational way.

Chatter about applying generative AI to vehicles ramped up last year as the topic — and startup OpenAI — hit the hype stratosphere. Mercedes-Benz added the conversational AI bot to its MBUX infotainment system in June 2023. By January, BMW and Volkswagen were showcasing the technology at the CES tech trade show in Las Vegas.

The Kia Assistant first debuted in April in the Kia K4, the new gas-powered compact sedan coming to market this summer. The Kia EV3 is the first all-electric vehicle in the company’s portfolio to get the new AI-based assistant.