As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, many carmakers are claiming new mission statements and mass reinvention. The acronym CASE (which stands for Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric) symbolizes the direction in which our vehicular future is headed. Most if not all major carmakers have already revealed hints, concepts and lofty press releases as to what this may entail, but few have been as specific as South Korea’s Kia.
Just over a year ago, Kia first announced “Plan S”, a second-generation shift from being solely a traditional combustion-engine carmaker to one encompassing electrification and mobility services, as well as connectivity and autonomy. Among its stated goals: after an investment of $25 billion by the end of 2025, the global Kia lineup will include 11 dedicated BEV (full battery electric) models reaching 6.6% of global EV market share and 20% of all Kia sales. Also included is a number of Purpose-Built Vehicles (PBV) for car-sharing, e-commerce and last-mile mobility solutions. By the end of this period, Kia is targeting a 6% operating profit margin and 10.6% return on equity (ROE) ratio.
As we enter 2021, we begin to see some of the fruits of Plan S.
A record-setting new logo
On January 6, Kia introduced its new symmetrical (except for the lower stroke of the “K”) logo in a record-setting manner: with 303 pyrodrones launching hundreds of fireworks in a synchronized display in the skies above Incheon, Korea. This set a new Guinness World Record for ‘Most unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) launching fireworks simultaneously’.
In addition to the new logo, Kia revealed its new global brand slogan, ‘Movement that inspires’.
The ‘New Kia Brand Showcase’
On January 15 came the followup to Plan S and the new logo reveal. Going forward, the corporate name will change from Kia Motors to, simply, Kia. This underscores the newfound emphasis on sustainable and innovative mobility solutions.
New nomenclature for Kia vehicles
For its new range of BEVs, Kia has trademarked from EV1 to EV9, and one of these will be the first dedicated Kia BEV, launching during the first quarter of 2021.
Meanwhile, sedan and hatchback nomenclature should continue the trend started when the mid-size Optima became the K5 for 2021. Expect to see similar renames for Rio (K2) and Forte (K3). The larger Cadenza and Quoris (K900) sedans (recently discontinued in the U.S.) would be K7 and K9, respectively.
Kia crossovers and minivans will continue to use current model names, though the latter will change from the current Sedona to the Korean market’s Carnival badge.
The PBV initiative
An integral part of Kia’s renovation is the Purpose-Built Vehicle (PBV) initiative. This involves a flexible “skateboard” platform accommodating modular bodies for, say, car-sharing vehicles, low-floor logistics vehicles, and delivery vehicles.
Also worth noting are international Kia initiatives such as investments in Grab (Southeast Asia’s largest ride-hailing service and food delivery company) and Ola (an Indian company offering peer-to-peer ridesharing, ride-service hailing, taxi, food delivery and other mobility services). Europe has seen WiBLE (a car-sharing venture in Madrid) and KiaMobility (a mobility solutions provider across Italy and Russia).