Kia considering going to alphanumeric names

(June 28, 2010) Kia Motors is considering changing its U.S. lineup nomenclature from product names to alphanumerics, Automotive News reported today.

The move is being considered at the highest levels of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group. In a recent interview, Hyundai Motor Co. Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun said the company is considering the change.

Kia's lineup in South Korea and some other markets already is partially alphanumeric. In Korea, the mid-sized sedan based on what was known as the Optima is named the K5, a large sedan known as Cadenza in some markets -- but not yet sold in the United States -- is named the K7, and the Forte likely will become the K3.

But many Kia vehicles, such as the Morning, Pride, Koup, Soul and Sportage still retain their English nomenclature in South Korea.

Chung said a decision on product names has not been made. He said he understands American buyers may prefer a car with a name, especially if an extended product lineup makes alphanumerics confusing. But he also thinks alphanumerics can increase the strength of an auto brand.