Kia and the Meaning of “Motors”

Kia, up until January 15, was officially known as “Kia Motors.” At least the “Motors” part of Kia Corporation was.

Now the company is just “Kia.” Which is pretty much what everyone calls it, anyway.

According to the company, by dropping the “Motors” there is an indication that it is “breaking away from its traditional manufacturing-driven business model.” I would have thought that were the company named “Kia Manufacturing” that could be the case. Somehow I don’t figure how the elimination of “Motors” means that the company “will expand into new and emerging business areas by creating innovative mobility products and services to improve customers’ daily lives.”

For one thing, aren’t the vehicles that Kia manufactures things that “improve customers’ daily lives”? Odds are, when you need to make a Costco run you’re not going to want to call an Uber.

Second, aren’t those “innovative mobility products” things that are going to need to be. . .manufactured?

While announcing the name change Kia execs stressed that the company is “focused on popularizing battery electric vehicles (BEVs)” and that it will introduce seven BEVs by 2027, encompassing various types of configurations.

In addition, it will develop what it calls “Purpose-Built Vehicles” for corporate customers that will be based on “skateboard” platforms. That term has pretty much come to mean BEV.

In one sense, it is perhaps not a good move to remove “Motors” from the name. While a Camry or an F-150 has an “engine” under its hood, a Tesla or a Taycan has a “motor” under its hood.

So a BEV-centric company might want the word “motor” associated with it.

But then there’s the “Lincoln Motor Company,” a name that Ford brought back to its luxury division in 2012 to help bring to mind a classy Lincoln of yore, not electric vehicles as it has none at this point. “Electrified”—a.k.a., hybrids—yes, but purely motor-driven, no.

And while GM has changed its logo, it has hung on to its “Motors.”

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