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Kia pushes for model name change

Number crunch: If Kia Australia gets its way, the Cerato small car could become the K3 under a mooted naming strategy.

Local Kia boss keen on shift to alpha-numeric nomenclature for Aussie line-up

Kia logo27 Jan 2015


KIA Motors Australia is pushing for a change in nomenclature to an alpha-numeric system to replace existing model names as it battles for recognition in the local new-car market.

A shift in naming strategy would go against the global policy of using conventional names for Kia models, however some markets, including the Chinese market, use the K coding for at least some of their line-up.

In Australia the South Korean car-maker uses global nameplates such as Rio, Sportage, Sorento, Cerato and Optima for its range, but the company's local chief operating officer Damien Meredith said last week that some models are still an unknown quantity to Australian consumers.

“We have a huge problem that no one knows what Cerato is,” he said. “We have put things into place. People need to know what a Cerato is, they need to put it on the shopping list, they need to test drive it then that gives us a chance.”

Mr Meredith said that a change to a simpler naming policy would enhance the brand in Australia that is struggling in some segments to get traction against tough competition.

“I make no bones about [it] I would love Picanto to be K1, Rio to be K2, Cerato to be K3, Sportage to be KV3 and Sorento to be KV5. I'd be the happiest man in the world. Because I think that would help dramatically with the brand perception of Kia in Australia.”

While the change is far from a lock to happen in Australia, Mr Meredith said he has pursued the idea with Kia's Korean management.

“I have presented that to Seoul. It does happen in some markets. It's something that I think would be great for the brand.”

Mr Meredith rejected the suggestion that a range-wide name change would have an impact on some models that have strong reputations in the local market.

“The research we have got shows us that Carnival is an incredibly strong brand name then they really dissipate after that to be quite honest.”

If the plan was given the green light by the company's Korean chiefs, Mr Meredith said it would be some time off and added that it would simplify the line-up for both buyers and dealers alike.

“If it ever got off the ground that would evolve over a product life-cycle.

That would be five years. I think it makes sense.

“I don't know if it will happen overnight but I am going to keep on pushing it because I think it is going to be very strong for the brand, it would give the brand a stronger position in Australia. Simpler for the consumers, simpler for the dealer network, simpler for everyone to understand.”

Sister brand Hyundai attempted a shift in nomenclature to 'i' models in Australia, kicking off with the i30 in 2007, the i45 and i20 in 2010, however it has since dropped the i45 badge in favour of Sonata, which returns after a five-year hiatus.

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