• Jun 28, 2010
Would a Kia Forte by any other name smell as sweet, if the name were K3 and those judging the smell were American buyers? That's the question Kia executive are mulling as they decide whether to switch to alphanumeric model designations in the U.S. Some of the company's cars that go by names in other markets wear letter-number identifiers in South Korea, such as the Optima, known in South Korea as the K5. Others, such as the Soul and Sportage, retain their proper names in South Korea.
According to Automotive News, Kia's vice chairman, Chung Eui-sun, believes that alphanumeric names can strengthen a brand as long as buyers don't get confused, but he also notes that Americans may prefer proper names. Kia would probably do well to study Acura's long road from "Legend" and "Integra" to its current system, and Infiniti's period of trial-and-error with its alphanumeric concoctions.

From where we sit, we think that Kia should think long and hard about the equity continuing to build in solid offerings like its Soul and new Sorento, and if they're going to go alphanumeric, they ought to do it sooner rather than later to avoid adding to the confusion. If it were us, we'd leave well enough alone – the automotive landscape is rapidly devolving into an alphanumeric soup and we're not in favor of another automaker reaching into the Scrabble tilebag. How about you? Have your say in 'Comments.'

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req'd.]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 93 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I actually was on a test panel for Subaru when they were considering going alphanumeric. I voted against it; they did it anyway. And apparently they've since gotten rid of it...good idea. If Subaru can't pull off a luxe image, ain't no way in hell Kia can.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. Subaru actually makes a good vehicle.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe they should just redesign the over-sized Kia nameplate that always seems to stick out like a sore thumb on every vehicle I've seen.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's really not 5442 if they 882. On the other hand, XT3000 and 329 seem to 7764.

      Numbers for names is dumb.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Companies ought to hire someone with an imagination; to just sit there and dream up neat names like the Corvette was! Surely someone out there has an imagination better than Sorento! LOL
      • 4 Years Ago
      Kia should come up with a real winner like CTS Coupe (Catera Touring Sedan Coupe)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh, KIA, please don't do that!

      Number-letter naming has become confusing and ridiculous.
      Too many brands have letters and/or numbers that overlap and mean nothing.

      Car makers don't want cars to be known by their model names--they want people to call their cars by band names. But the confusion and silliness of alphanumeric models makes no sense when brands often cover models ranging from sub-compact to huge.

      Enough, already with the alphanumeric crap.
      soll15
      • 4 Years Ago
      they should stick with names
      • 4 Years Ago
      Keep the names. Don't use alpha-numerics.
      • 4 Years Ago

      The very finest Acura ever made? The Legend.

      The most classic Lincoln? The Continental.

      Worst examples of alphanumerics? Lincoln and Acura.

      And to shoot the theory that luxury brands should have alphanums, take a long look at the MOST prestigous brands in the automotive landscape -- Lambo, Rolls, Bentley, and Bugatti. Commonality? Names for all of their models.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I dunno. The 7, LP500, F40, M1 and DB5 all disagree.
      Amy
      • 4 Years Ago
      KIA---killing industrial America....all Kia does is copy how a car is built......
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Amy
        Not KIA means Killed In Action. Would you drive a car named that?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I really like the names, Forte and Soul! I would replace Rondo, Amanti, and Borrego! Maybe even the Optima. But Kia hit a home run with the Forte and Soul! It doesn't sound cheap and it exudes passion for musicians or artists I think!

      And it's selling more than Mazda... Why mess with a good thing?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, the Rondo should stay... its also a musical term.

        Soul, Forte, Rondo... I know. I love Kia and how they used musical terms for their model names! Please don't resort to numbers!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't think K5 will ever strike the same chord as M3 S5 or SL500 AMG

      please reserve alphnumeric naming for performance cars
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