This is part of an effort to ensure that the vehicle brand itself registers with consumers more than the model name.

The new Kia K900 luxury sedan stands as a four-wheeled flag in the ground of the financially fertile turf of the world's premium automakers. It's a bold move for a Korean manufacturer that was best known for inexpensive MSRPs and easy credit only a few years ago. The company has made sure it has the requisite trappings of premium motoring: indulgent size, rear-wheel drive, a powerful V8 engine, real wood trim and rich leather seats. It has also ensured the model has another important earmark of luxury - an alphanumeric name. These days, everyone from Audi to BMW to Cadillac to Lexus to Volvo rely on a jumble of letters and numbers to make up their model names. We've been told this is all part of an effort to ensure that the vehicle brand itself registers with consumers more than the model name.

Yet this type of name was far from a given for the K900. Known as the K9 in its home Korean market, Kia officials knew that a different name was called for, lest the model be dogged in America by four-legged comparisons. In fact, back in June of 2012, Kia announced that outside of its home market, the K9 would be known as Quoris, so it was widely assumed that the US model would carry this same appellation. But that wasn't to be - the car was extensively clinic'd with US consumers, and apparently the notion of an alphanumeric name connoted luxury more effectively than Quoris, so "K900" won out.

And this naming scheme might have legs. At a launch event Wednesday in Santa Barbara, Scott McKee, Kia Motors USA public relations director, told Autoblog, "[K900] could result in other models with alphanumeric designations down the road ... while we're not confirming anything, it would certainly make sense."

Kia doesn't want to risk 'pulling an Acura.'

Now in its 20th year of US sales, Kia has always favored more conventional word-based names, working hard to cement models like Optima, Sorento and Soul in the minds of car shoppers. But according to McKee, Kia wanted to make sure the ambitious K900 stood out from the rest of its model range, even in name "the K900 designation signifies that this car is something really different [for the brand]."

Different, yes, but perhaps not alone - it sounds like the automaker will be getting more alphanumeric models. So will Kia's famed dancing hamsters soon be hawking its next-generation 'box car' with a bag of Scrabble tiles ? By our read, that's unlikely; Kia has worked way too hard to undermine the model names it already has and it doesn't want to risk 'pulling an Acura,' grenading established model names as part of some ill-fated attempt to increase brand awareness. No, instead, we would expect the strategy to be more incremental, possibly with all high-end Kia models bearing alphanumeric names and 'everyday' models keeping word-based names like they always have.

Do you think this is a good strategy? Let us know by having your say in Comments.


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  • 83 Comments
      Toyotathong
      • 11 Months Ago
      At least they didn't name it the 9000 SUX.
      Bruce
      • 11 Months Ago
      I think the letter-jumble names are STUPID. Please, Kia, keep using real names! If you put a gun to my head, I couldn't tell you what any current Cadillac, Lincoln, or Lexus model is. But I sure knew an Eldorado from a Coupe DeVille!
        EJ
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Bruce
        You don't know the Navigator? Escalade? You should read autoblog more often. :-)
      Jimmy Joe
      • 11 Months Ago
      KIA K9 is similar to Mazda 6. Just because KIA added an alph name, people will not automatically jump to assuming this is a luxury car.
      audisp0rta4
      • 11 Months Ago
      K900 signifies nothing at all.
      drew
      • 11 Months Ago
      Alphanumerics are boring.
      amcdonal86
      • 10 Months Ago
      Maybe I'm blind, but I just don't see what's so luxurious-looking about the exterior. It looks really bland to me, like a Lexus LS.
      hboi18
      • 11 Months Ago
      kia and Hyundai will never be luxury brands to me....its like if Kmart started there own high end clothing line to compete with Armani or Gucci or whatever...and charge like 20-30% less.....It maybe just as nice but its not the same.
        The Friendly Grizzly
        • 11 Months Ago
        @hboi18
        I am not faulting you; this is just an observation. Americans are very badge-conscious. In Europe, at least in the past, an Opel Kadett was recognized as being a lower-end car for regular people. Yet the Opel Admiral was recognized as being a quite high-end model for the well-to-to. Both were labeled Opel. Same as with Nissan in Japan: no one looked down on a Nissan President because the same name appeared on the Sunny (B210 here) or the Bluebird (model 411 here I think). How about the Toyota Century (luxobarge) and the Corolla? Both are Toyotae.
        FIDTRO
        • 11 Months Ago
        @hboi18
        A very true observation. +1
        knightrider_6
        • 11 Months Ago
        @hboi18
        It works for CrapWagon.
      Black Dyanmite
      • 11 Months Ago
      What you need to know about Kia, the background story: Kia USA LOST slaes last year, like VW USA, in a market that was up 8%. Hyundai wants to mutate Kia, long-term, into a luxury marque, not like Lexus or BMW, but like GMC is to Chevy. Kia has little brand equity in the market, so this premium branding is doomed to failure. People won't pay more for a Kia. It's just a bad idea because the brand is not strong enough, and is far from that. BD
        Wisdom Seeker
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Black Dyanmite
        I don't see it as premium branding. This only gives Kia a version of the Hyundai Equus. The intent of the Kia brand seems to me as a way to be more competitive in markets by giving consumers that prefer European styling an option as opposed to the Asian styling of Hyundai.
          GoBolts
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Wisdom Seeker
          European styling (Peter Schreyer) + Korean engineering = Perfect combination of style, tech, and reliability with the BEST warranty in the business.
      FIDTRO
      • 11 Months Ago
      If you want a BMW, get a BMW. Treat yourself right and don't settle for some crappy Korean imitation.
        Justin
        • 11 Months Ago
        @FIDTRO
        FIDTRO, we all know you probably can't afford either. Stop hating and let people with actual money buy what they want to buy, because that's what they already do. It's none of your business.
          Justin
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Justin
          No one's a douche just for buying a BMW. If I bought a Kia instead of a BMW, it's because I spent my actual money on what I wanted to buy, just as people should. Sorry you think in such shallow ways...
          hboi18
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Justin
          Says the guy who would rather spend 60k on a Kia then a BMW just because he doesnt want to be a "douche" ..............
      Ryan
      • 11 Months Ago
      Congratulations Acura, your brand has gained awareness, but mainly in what NOT to do.
        Toyotathong
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        Isn't it a shame? This is the company that gave the world the NSX and Integra Type-R.
      Justin Shaw
      • 11 Months Ago
      At least Hyundai/Kia is willing to experiment on rwd cars. People need to stop hating them for trying. The last rwd Acura was the NSX, and Lincoln killed off the LS back in 06. Look at the mobile world. Globally Samsung(Korean) reigns king. Only in few countries such as America and Japan are Apple phones selling more. The K900 could have been named better, but that shouldn't be the deal breaker.
        denniskfc
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Justin Shaw
        you are right, it is just that NSX never cross my mind as an acura. same with integra. they are all honda to me and i guess to the rest of the world besides US
        denniskfc
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Justin Shaw
        you forgot S2000
      Jesus!
      • 11 Months Ago
      K900 lol. What a dumb name. Just go to your local Ford dealer and buy a Fusion for cheaper. They resemble eachother anyway.
        Jesus!
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Jesus!
        The front at least. Back screams old Lexus.
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