Kia Motors is one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world. Established in 1957 in Seoul, South Korea, they are now 34% owned by the Hyundai Motor Company, another company based out of the country. Indeed, Kia is the country’s second-largest automaker after Hyundai. They have sold over 2.75 million vehicles worldwide during their history as a company.
Kia has a long and interesting history. Though they were founded in 1944 as a steel tubing and handmade bicycle parts company, they didn’t begin to produce motorcycles until 1957, trucks until 1962, and cars until 1974. Even so, they are the oldest car company in South Korea.
Soon after the company got its start, they began to offer complete bicycles for sale. This experience helped them firmly establish themselves in the motorcycle industry when they first started to build complete motorcycles in 1957.
The company continued to grow, adding trucks to the mix in 1962, before opening an automotive assembly plant in 1973. A year later, the first Kia kit the market and the company’s popularity grew greatly. Unfortunately, the then dictator Chun Doo-hwan enforced industry consolidation starting in 1981. This meant that Kia had to give up automobile production for the time being and focus their energy on building light trucks.
This temporary setback proved to be a relatively short one. By 1986, Kia had begun to produce automobiles once again. In fact, they jumped from producing 26 cars in 1986 to 95,000 cars in 1987. A big factor in their increased production was a partnership with Ford.
Kia’s popular early models of cars included the Kia Pride and the Kia Avella. Many of these models were based on Mazda platforms. It was around this time that Kia expanded out of the Asian market and started to sell their offerings in North America and Australia.
1992 proved to be a big year for Kia. It was in this year that they were incorporated into the United States as Kia Motors Company. The automaker sold their first car after their incorporation in 1994. They methodically added new models to their North American line.
Then the Asian financial crisis hit and Kia declared bankruptcy in 1997. It was around this time that Hyundai Motor Company bought into the company. In 1998, Hyundai bought 51% of Kia. Disinvestments since then result in the group owning only 34% of Kia.
Though Kia is still a popular brand in the United States and Canada, they have focused most of their attention on the European market since 2005.
The current flagship model of Kia Motors is the Kia K900. The full-size sedan is available in South Korea, the Middle East, Colombia, Russia, the United States, and Canada with plans to release it in China under the Quoris brand name.
The K900 was introduced in 2011 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It is a four-door, rear-wheel drive car that features suicide doors and a 3.3-Liter Turbocharged V6 engine. It is currently Kia’s most luxurious offering.
Known for its sporty stance and aggressive styling, the Kia K900 is already a popular and bestselling car. It implements some of the company’s newest technologies into its design including blind spot assist, head up display, and adaptive front lighting.
Kia used an aggressive advertising program to market the K900 before and during its release. The company released a commercial at Super Bowl XLVIII featuring characters from The Matrix film series. Basketball star LeBron James has been the brand’s luxury car ambassador since 2014.
A wide selection of current models are currently offered by Kia Motors. These can be broken down into several categories including passenger cars, SUVs and vans, commercial vehicles, and hybrid electric vehicles.
Passenger Cars: Kia’s current line of passenger cars include the Cadenza, Cee’d, Forte, Forte Koup, K900, Optimal, Picanto, Ray, Rio, Soul, and Venga.
SUVS and Vans: Kia’s current line of SUVs and vans include the Carens, Carnival, Mohave, Sorento, and Sportage.
Commercial Vehicles: Kia’s current line of commercial vehicles include the Granbird, Bongo, and K4000.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles: Kia’s current line of hybrid electric vehicles include the Cee’d Hybrid, Ray Plug-In Hybrid, Soul Hybrid, Spectra, and Optima Hybrid.
Kia has manufactured a wide range of previous models over the years that are no longer made. These vehicles include the Brisa (1974 to 1981), Brisa II (1975 to 1981), Pride (1986 to 2000), Concord/Capital (1987 to 1996), Sephia (1992 to 2003) Credos/Clarus (1995 to 2001), Retona (1998 to 2003), Combi (2000 to 2002), Spectra (2000 to 2009), and Rio (2000 to 2003).
Kia has sponsored a wide variety of sporting associations, teams, and athletes over the years. These include the NBA, WNBA, Archery World Cup, Australian Open tennis tournament, FIFA World Cup, X Games, and LeBron James.