I rented a car from Budget in Indianapolis and then I saw it sitting there in H-13 in the underground garage. It was a little white box on wheels called SOUL. It has no soul. It has very little power and almost no personality. I was suspicious when I first saw this car on the market back in 2010. SOUL? Was this a marketing gimmick? How in the world did a car company choose that name for it’s ugly little box on wheels?
I found this bit in some KIA archives. “Kia's Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer, strongly endorsed that name choice at the Geneva Show , commenting, "The name SOUL accurately reflects how people will be able to 'express their spirit-their psyche' with this new product. Through a variety of options, accessories and colours, they will be able to personalize their Kia Soul and create a sense of individuality, making the car a true reflection of their personality." Wow! Enough said!
Peter, my SOUL is not pure white and colorless although your car is. I know, I know, it’s just a rental car so I should blame Budget for their choice of a bland box with little appeal for me? I could have refused but I thought, hey, this should be a fun ride. It isn’t. I feel like I am sitting on the roadway and it’s not made for big, old people. I hope those young folks in the youth market like it well enough to find some kind of self-expression of their individuality. It does nothing for me. Oops, I forgot. It got me to work and, in the rain no less.
Was the name SPIRIT already taken? Oh, that’s the name of an airline. Really! I started thinking of car model names starting with classics such as the old Lincoln Zephyr. Now there’s a name that makes sense. Zephyr, but I’ll bet few people under 30 know what a zephyr is. Such a defining word! How about the Volkswagen Beetle? Beetles are the most common of insects but at least they fly. Jaguar? Nice image. A spyder (spider) is not an insect but Porsche doesn’t mind. The new 918 is a mere $845,000. And then there is the Aston Martin Vanquish.
Come to think of it, maybe the designers and marketeers at KIA were onto something but I’m not sure it works. How about KAR? You know, the KIA KAR. Drive the KAR from KIA. Oh yes, the meaning of KIA? It’s from two Korean words meaning “arising out of Asia” and there you have it.