- Kia Motors America introduced a Facebook Messenger chatbot named "Kian" to help car buyers find answers to hundreds of questions. The mobile-first bot will also be available on Kia.com, the company said in a press release.
- Kian, created by CarLabs and agency Ansible, lets shoppers research prices, estimate payments, see special offers, view photos and videos, compare features with competitors, search vehicle inventory and find nearby dealers.
- The bot responds to commands like "Show me an SUV that gets at least 25 miles per gallon in the city" or "What's the starting price of the Forte?" Kian also helps shoppers find a matching car by answering a series of questions in the Messenger app. If Kian can't find the answer, it can hand over the conversation to a live representative.
Kia is leveraging Messenger's 1.3 billion-strong user base to create a useful mobile feature for car shoppers. What's unique about this move is that the chatbot incorporates information about Kia's competitors as well, whereas many recently launched bots stick with the one brand.
This comprehensive chatbot builds upon Kia's initial experiment with NiroBot, launched in November 2016. The South Korean carmaker received more than 875,000 engagements from more than 33,000 consumers with NiroBot, which helped to sell more than 22,000 Niro crossovers, per the release.
Carmakers are embracing chatbot technology, especially as voice-activated platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are integrated into vehicles more frequently. This month, German luxury carmaker Daimler introduced its "Ask Mercedes" chatbot for smartphone apps and Google Assistant to be installed in recent models of cars, Reuters reported.
Kia's chatbot comes as Facebook aims to carve out a bigger slice of the automotive advertising market. Last week, the social network introduced dynamic ads for the automotive industry, along with updates to lead ads to help identify prospective car buyers. The U.S. automotive industry will spend $16.32 billion on advertising this year, but only 8.8% of that will go to mobile media, according to a September forecast from researcher BIA/Kelsey.