LAS VEGAS -- Kia Motors Corp. doesn’t expect to sell self-driving vehicles for at least 15 years, but it has a marketing maxim for them: “Drive Wise.”
Kia announced its tag line Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show here as it demonstrated a suite of experimental technologies for highways, traffic jams and urban driving, as well as an automated valet parking system that allows drivers to get out of their Kia and send it to a parking space by pressing a button on a smartwatch.
“Although the first marketable fully autonomous car from Kia will not be available in the immediate future,” said Lim Tae-won, vice president of Hyundai Motor Group’s advanced r&d group, “the work our r&d teams are currently doing to develop our range of Drive Wise technologies is already improving on road safety.”
For now this is merely a branding exercise. Still, it shows how automakers intend to use automated driving to hammer home their technological prowess to customers, just as Audi has built its reputation on quattro all-wheel drive and Ford has elevated its brand using EcoBoost turbocharged engines.
Kia, together with corporate sibling Hyundai Motor Co., is investing heavily in automated driving. In November, the two automakers disclosed plans to jointly invest $2 billion by 2018 in such technology, with a goal of bringing semiautonomous vehicles to market by 2020, followed by fully autonomous vehicles by 2030.
Kia’s semiautonomous vehicles would offer traffic jam assist and highway driving assist, two features available in high-end vehicles from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Tesla. Those two companies have branded their systems; Mercedes-Benz calls its system Intelligent Drive and Tesla uses the name Autopilot.