Kia Motors Corporation (KMC), founded in 1944, is South Korea's oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles and is now a subsidiary of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group. Over 1.5 million vehicles a year are produced in 13 manufacturing and assembly operations in eight countries, which are then sold and serviced through a network of distributors and dealers covering 172 countries.
Kia Motors Corporation's brand slogan is "The Power to Surprise". From August 2009 until December 2012, the company has been led by Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee. Kia also produces a Minivan series, the Sedona, similar in design to Hyundai's Entourage that stopped selling in 2008. It is cheaper than other vans in the market like the The Toyota Sienna and the Nissan Quest. 2006 started the outgoing generation, but in 2015 there will be a redesign.
In 1944, the company that would become Kia was making steel tubing and bicycle parts. By 1951, it had progressed to building Korea's first bicycles and changed its name from Kyungsung Precision Industry to Kia Industries. The name is a combination of the Korean word "ki" ("arise") and the letter "a" ("Asia"), and signifies not only the company's origins but its export ambitions. Those would take time, however, as it took Kia six years before it built its first motor scooter, and a further four years before it made its first motorcycle. By 1962, however, the company was building trucks.
- Founded : June 9, 1944
- Headquarters : Seoul, South Korea
- Website : www.kia.com
In 1991, Kia Industries became Kia Motors Inc., and began planning its assault on the U.S. market. The Sephia sedan led the charge, and just over 12,000 were sold in its debut year of 1994. Kia imported the Sportage small SUV in 1996, and sales continued to expand. However, the 1997 Asian financial crisis forced the company into bankruptcy. Rival Hyundai outbid Ford, which had held a stake in the company since 1986, for a controlling stake.
By 1999, Kia had completed its national rollout with dealers in all 50 states, and expanded its lineup in 2000 with the addition of the Rio subcompact, Spectra sedan, and the midsize Optima sedan. When the Sedona minivan and Rio5 hatchback were added the next year, sales jumped to more than 223,000 vehicles. The addition of the Sorento, a body-on-frame SUV, and a new Rio and Rio5 pushed sales even higher. They were joined in 2003 by the Amanti, a near-luxury sedan, and in 2004 by a new Spectra and second-generation Sportage.
By 2006, Kia had sold its 2-millionth vehicle in the U.S., broke ground on its corporate campus in Irvine, Calif., and announced plans to open its first U.S. assembly plant in West Point, Georgia. The Rondo, a small station wagon-like crossover, joined the company's growing lineup, which expanded again with the addition of the Borrego midsize SUV and Soul compact SUV. Without a doubt, the one-time bicycle parts maker has arisen up out of Asia.