The last few years have been good to Kia. The brand that was once shorthand for cheap, uncool transportation has transformed itself into a purveyor of some of the best mainstream cars available in the United States by focusing on design and quality alike, from the award-winning Telluride and excellent new Seltos crossovers to impressive sedans like the sporty Stinger, luxurious K900 and aggressive-looking new K5 (what used to be the Optima).
But while the last few years have seemed like big ones for Kia, the next few could make them seem insignificant by comparison. At least, that's how new global boss Ho Sung Song make it sound.
It's all part of a new five-year business plan called "Plan S," according to an interview Song recently conducted with Automotive News. (The "S" stands for "shift," but sadly, that doesn't mean we should be expecting more manual gearboxes out of the Kia lineup.) Starting in January 2021, Kia will be rebranding itself, starting with the introduction of a new logo first seen on the Imagine concept (pictured above and below).
"We want to be more dynamic, stylish and inventive,” Song told AN. The new logo, he said, will serve as a way to "drive [our new] business paradigm into the new world."
But losing the old oval that's served as the brand's identity for decades is just the first part. The more substantive shift is a flurry of new electric vehicles in the pipeline: 11 electric vehicles in total in showrooms by 2025, according to AN, with seven products that are only offered in electric form by 2027; if all goes well, the company hopes to have moved half a million EVs by 2026.
To reach those lofty goals, Kia is planning to spend $25 billion in new investments over the next five years. And the fruits of those labors should start to arrive soon; the first designed-only-as-an-EV-Kia (as opposed to, say, the Niro, which comes in hybrid, PHEV and EV forms) will be revealed in 2021, according to the report — based on a new electric car platform shared with Hyundai.
Part of the brand relaunch will involve pushing the Kia brand upmarket, Song said. That move, at least, seems right in line with the brand's recent moves to bring near-luxury car levels of comfort and build quality to its top-trim vehicles (or in the case of the S-Class-lite K900, actual luxury car levels of comfort and build quality). Whether or not buyers will follow it upmarket remains to be seen, but if nothing else, the next few years should be interesting ones for Kia.