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The History Of Kia
Founded in December 1944 as a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts, Kia started as the Kyungsung Precision Industry. Kyungsung would go on to produce Korea’s very first bicycle in 1951 that they named the Samchully. A year later, Kyungsung officially became Kia Industries and a few years later in 1957, they would begin to build Honda-licensed motorcycles. By 1962, the company was building Mazda trucks and in 1974, they began to build Mazda cars.
Kia was on the rise; but a government forced halt of production would come in 1981, creating doubt that the company would ever fully recover.
In 1986, Kia was looking to get back into the automotive industry. And Ford came knocking at the door with opportunity. 6 years later, Kia Motors was fully incorporated into the United States. Using an ingenious marketing strategy, Kia expanded to other regions yearly and by 1995 the company had over one hundred dealerships across 30 states and sold a record 24,740 vehicles. The company had found instant success…or so it seemed.
Kia Motors would file for bankruptcy just two years after having their most success as a company at the time. This was due to a dreadful financial crisis that shook East and Southern Asia in 1997. In 1998, Kia received another helping hand; but this time it was from the Hyundai Motor Company. Hyundai agreed to exchange ownership with Kia and acquired 51% of the company, winning a bidding war with Ford.
In October of 2006, Kia Motors America would reach an agreement to build a manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia. The US was investing 1 billion dollars into Kia, which was, and still is, one of the biggest moments in the company’s history. Four years later in February of 2010, Kia officially opened its manufacturing plant in Georgia and recorded an unprecedented 15th straight year of increased U.S. market share.
While Kia doesn’t claim to be a manufacturer of luxury vehicles, that didn’t stop Pope Francis of the Catholic Church from riding in a Kia Soul when he visited Korea for 5 days in August of 2014. The Pop liked the car so much that he rode in it to his high-profile welcoming at Seoul Airport. As if the company wasn’t already truly building itself an identity as a brand, in 2016 Kia Motors ranked #1 in reliability in the United States and became the first non-luxury automaker to win the prestigious ranking since 1989.
Kia’s current slogan, “Give it Everything” describes exactly what the company has been doing since its inception. The company has continued to fight until it finally began to thrive and carve out a path all its own. With the most reliable cars on the market, and also some of the cheapest, Kia doesn’t need fancy, luxurious titles to create a great product. Kia was almost lost to the automotive industry at one point, but they returned from the brink of extinction with a vengeance and rose to the top of the automotive market.