A Brief History of Kia

A Brief History of Kia

Today, drivers across the United States associate the Kia automotive brand with excellence and affordability thanks to cars like the 2024 Kia K5.

Company Ownership and the Early Days

Kia is a South Korean automotive manufacturer with its headquarters in Seoul. The company operates 14 different manufacturing and assembly plants in eight countries, selling vehicles to drivers across the world with the help of over 40,000 employees. However, there’s more to the company’s origins and history than most people know.

No company is born into the world as an automotive giant, and Kia is no exception. The Kia Motor Corporation arose from humble origins and succeeded thanks to hard work and innovation. Today, the 2024 Kia K5 is just one of many models sold in 172 countries.

When Was Kia Established?

Kia was first established on June 9, 1944, as Kyungsung Precision Industry. At the time, the company manufactured steel tubing and bicycle parts, becoming South Korea’s first producer of domestic bicycles in 1951.

Company higher-ups changed the name to Kia Industries in 1952 following the success of its bicycle manufacturing operation. The company began building small Honda-licensed motorcycles in 1957, Mazda-licensed trucks in 1962, and cars in 1974.

American drivers were introduced to the Kia brand in 1986 when the manufacturer partnered with Ford to produce the Ford Festiva and Ford Aspire. Kia Motors America was incorporated in 1992.

Beginning in Portland, OR, with just four dealerships, Kia has methodically expanded since then. The automaker now manufactures many vehicles for American markets, including the 2024 Kia K5, under its brand and sells them in dealerships across the 50 states.

Who Owns Kia Motors?

Technically, Kia Motors’ ownership is distributed among many individual and corporate investors. Hyundai Motor Company is the largest shareholder, followed by the National Pension Service of Korea.

In 1998, Kia Motors became a Hyundai subsidiary. The situation isn’t quite as simple as a buyout, though. Instead, the two companies agreed to diversify their offerings through exchanging ownership.

Hyundai Motor Company acquired a majority share of 51% in Kia Motors initially before divesting. The largest South Korean automotive manufacturer remains Kia’s largest stakeholder. In modern times, Hyundai owns around one-third of Kia Motors.

The situation isn’t quite as simple as it initially sounds. Kia also retains partial ownership of nearly two dozen Hyundai companies.

The Bright Future of Kia America

Kia America, Inc. (KMA) is based in Irvine, CA. As the sales, marketing, and distribution arm of the company in the US, it offers a complete vehicle lineup through over 755 dealers.

From the 2024 Kia K5 to the Sportage and beyond, the Kia Motor Company lineup remains very popular among American drivers. Kia cars and SUVs routinely win awards. The company has been recognized by J.D. Power as the highest-ranked mass-market brand.

The facility now manufactures multiple vehicles at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia in West Point, fulfilling orders across North America. Anyone paying attention would confirm that Kia America has a bright future.

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