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Kia

Kia

Republic of Korea Republic of Korea (1944 - present)
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History


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History

Kia was founded in December 1 of 1944 as Kyungsung Precision Industry and at the time the company made steel tubing for bicycle frames and other bicycle components. The company quickly started to export components to Hong Kong which made them the first Korean company to export any kind of goods. After the Korean war Kyungsung changed its name to Kia Industrial Company, which means "rising out of Asia", and started producing the very first bicycle to be mass-produced in South Korea, in 1952. Due to strong sales and demand a new plant was built.

Kia Brisa, 1974

Kia Brisa, 1974

© photo courtesy of: Kia


The 1970's was a decade of economical growth for Korea and marked the first steps towards car assembly by other local companies, such as DaewooDaewooDaewooRepublic of Korea, 1967 > present17 models
38 photos
and HyundaiHyundaiHyundaiRepublic of Korea, 1967 > present77 models
1871 photos
3 videos
. Kia started assemblying cars in 1970 and by 1973 the company decided that it was time to set a production plant, making Kia the first Korean car company to produce its own engines. Kia's first car was the Kia BrisaBrisaKia BrisaRepublic of Korea, 1974 > present1 photo
S-1000, a 4-door saloon and actually a version of the Mazda 1000 and it was a success.

Despite Kia's growing success, in 1981, the Korean Government in order to gain some control over the Korean car industry instructed Kia to stop manufacturing cars and focus on light commercial vehicles. And so the production of the Kia Brisa ended in 1981. However in the mid 1980's the government's restrictions were dropped and so Kia was able to return to car manufacture, and so the Mazda 121121Mazda 121Japan, 1985 > 19914 versions
8 photos
based Kia PridePrideKia PrideRepublic of Korea, 1987 > present1 photo
started its production in 1986.

During the 1990's Kia expanded and planned a second factory to finally invest in its own self-designed models. In 1992 the first true Kia model began its production in the new plant, the Kia SephiaSephiaKia SephiaRepublic of Korea, 1994 > 20012 series
3 versions
1 photo
, a 4-door saloon sold as the Mentor in the UK. New models followed such as the PotentiaPotentiaKia PotentiaRepublic of Korea, 1992 > present1 photo
, the SportageSportageKia SportageRepublic of Korea, 1994 > present4 series
82 versions
97 photos
in 1993 and the AvellaAvellaKia AvellaRepublic of Korea, 1994 > present1 photo
in 1994. Kia started exporting to the UK in 1991 and to continental Europe and the USA in 1993. In 1997 Kia acquired the design rights for the Lotus ElanElanLotus ElanUnited Kingdom, 1962 > 19953 series
16 versions
22 photos
1 video
.

The economic crisis in 1997-98 also hit the Korean economy and with the recession Kia's situation shifted for the worst but it was "rescued" by Hyundai, the only Korean car company that was able to maintain itself in a strong position. And so in 1998 Kia joined the Hyundai Group, which despite sharing platforms and powetrains has allowed for both companies to keep a healthy separation by keeping their original production plants.

Meanwhile Kia has been expanding and has established production plants in China, Brazil and Slovakia.



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