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.]