Kia Execs Want People to Stop Being Ashamed of Driving Kias

Have you ever seen a car on the road that looks kind of like a Kia, but wasn’t wearing a Kia badge?

This is because a lot of Kia drivers swap out the factory badge on their cars for another one that looks very similar to a Lexus emblem to hide the fact that they’re driving a Kia. Kia started its life in North America as a budget brand, so it’s understandable that some people might want to hide their Kia’s true identity.


This is a trend that Kia hopes will stop with the launch of its upcoming grand tourer, the Stinger GT, a car that brings the brand upmarket and can also cater to the enthusiast. This car will help break many barriers for the Korean automaker and show the world what it’s capable of.

“We think we’re going to surprise many people with this car,” said Orth Hedrick, vice-president of product planning at Kia. Hedrick said that the brand has noticed people swapping badges and used this as motivation to build cars that drivers can be proud of.

ALSO SEE: All-New 2018 Kia Rio Makes US Debut

“People buy a car to express themselves in some way,” he said, suggesting that people can’t go out and tell everyone their net worth, so cars become a representation of one’s place or social standing in the world. The Kia Stinger GT wants to make sure that message is loud and clear: it’s luxurious and sporty and built to the same standards as expensive German vehicles.

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With former Audi and BMW execs at the helm of Kia, it’s very possible they can pull off this change in public perception. For example, Global Chief of Design Peter Schryer came from Audi and has been leading the Korean automaker through a high point in car design, while former BMW M Brand VP Albert Biermann is now in charge of Vehicle Dynamics at Kia.

2017 New York Auto Show Coverage

With the new rear-wheel-drive Kia Stinger GT, the automaker wants to change people’s perception of the brand, hopefully leaving buyers satisfied and proud enough to keep the proper Kia badges on the hood and trunklid of their vehicles.

Discuss this story on our Kia Rio Forum


Darren Zuke says:

I was embarrassed when I first got my Optima, Having sold them in another life years ago (never at a KIA dealership) they were the “Yeah it’s cheap but it’s actually pretty not that bad.” We stumbled into our optima and loved it, but it still had the stigma in my mind from the early 2000’s. With the K emblem we had a ton of compliments about our “lexus”. With all of the aftermarket tuner bs that came with the car– apparently the guy before us was more into go fast parts than making his payments– It is fast and fun as anything out there. Now I just love the looks on their faces when I tell them it’s a kia. I hope they don’t switch the badge– It’s more fun this way.

Joseph Alber says:

According to KIA Motors, KIA means “arise or come up out of Asia.” I also heard that it means the “rising sun.” Do you think anyone in America knows this? – NO! What I don’t understand is why in many parts of the world KIA models are labeled as K1 (Picanto), K3 (Forte), K5 (Optima), K7(Cadenza), K9 (K900), etc… in fact I heard that the “Lexus” looking “K” badge is in fact the Corporate K for KIA Motors in Korea! So yes like many posts here, K.I.A. (Killed In Action) is not the favored badge I’d carry on my favorite ride as a combat soldier. So I ghosted out my entire car (except the “K” steering wheel). I can’t wait for the Stinger GT to come out in November and look forward to replacing the badge if KIA Motors continues to treat the American market this way. By the way, I spent $14K in custom performance upgrades on my 2012 KIA Optima SX and I am pretty sure that’s not because I was ashamed of my KIA, but in fact VERY proud to show what Peter Schreyer and his Team can do (especially as a former AUDI A8 owner).

themodfather says:

Kia sounds like IKEA. It sounds like some kind of Chinese or Indian Wal-Mart brand of car. Change the name, problem solved. Sounds a lot worse than Toyota or Hyundai to me. Maybe I’m wrong..

FlightService says:

The Kia car is fine. They continue to look better with every new model.

That badge looks like something someone ran off a printer for a Third Grade class presentation right before the bell rang.

Update your logo, Kia and fewer people will shave them.

andrew says:

it’s not so much the brand.. its the boring one dimensional logo that not that pleasant. I bought a stinger happy to tell everyone willing to listen it’s a KIA but change the logos to E because so much nicer to look at a more represented of a car of this quality

Daniel Vega says:

A little late to the discussion but you guys should know that there is no such thing as a Korean market Kia badge. I know because I lived in Korea for 2 yrs. Kia uses the same badge in Korea and in the USA with the exception to the E badge which is as far as I know only for the Stinger.

Kelvin Allen says:

KIA makes a very nice vehicle, depending what you like. I have a 2017 Black Sportage SxTurbo, had a 2019 Federation Orange Stinger GTS (hydroplane accident 2022), and I now have 2022 Black Forte GT2. I enjoy my KIAs.

The one thing KIA needs is remember: There is no Replacement for Displacement!!! The Forte GT2 (201 hp) should have a GT3 (301 hp)!!!

I can buy a Charger, Mustang, AMG, BMW with all the horses to satisfy hat want, but not KIA, Step It Up, increase the/my Love for KIA!$!