Kia built an AI chatbot to sell you stuff on Facebook

This is what AI's going to be stuck doing for the next decade, isn't it?

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read

Kia already has a skill available for devices equipped with Amazon's Alexa, but all it really does is offer up product information. It appears that Kia's next foray into the latest connected tech is pretty much the same.

Kia on Monday unveiled Kian, a product-information chatbot that will start on Kia's Facebook Messenger and eventually deploy to Kia's consumer site. Kia calls it a virtual assistant, but it's really just a bot designed to convince you to buy a Kia.

Kian is capable of understanding natural language. It'll give users the chance to research vehicle pricing, estimate monthly payments, view photos or videos and learn about special offers on local Kia models. It'll also compare Kia vehicles against competitors and help you find a local dealer if you don't know where one is.

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Talking to a robot with canned responses isn't much different from going down to the dealer and talking to a salesperson, but it's a bit more convenient.


While you might sit here and wonder how Kia could use AI and natural language processing to do something with a bit more substance, Kian is still important. Not everyone has the time to schlep down to the dealer, and not everyone feels comfortable doing research solo. While Kian might only supply answers that Kia wants users to see, it's yet another shopping tool that could improve the general car-shopping experience, which is one that not everyone enjoys.

Best of all, it's supposed to learn from its conversations and improve its own methods. "As more shoppers use the system, it learns to anticipate questions, provides more specific answers and gets smarter over time," Martin Schmitt, CEO and cofounder of CarLabs, Kia's partner on this project, said in a statement. "Having access to that level of shopper data is a powerful tool for understanding and serving customers better than previously possible."

Kia's first foray into bots was NiroBot. NiroBot is an Alexa skill that can provide users with a whole bunch of information on one specific model -- the Niro, Kia's latest hybrid.

2017 Kia Niro hopes to slay the Toyota Prius in the hybrid wars

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