- Jan 23, 2014
K900 probably won't be last time Kia goes alphanumeric
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.
This is 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."
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]."
Kia doesn't want to risk 'pulling an Acura.'
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.
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