Kia Cars

The word Kia means "to arise to the world from Asia." The company is a new entry into the world of vehicle making. Hailing from Seoul, Kia is South Korea's second largest automobile maker behind Hyundai. With 1.4 million vehicles sold in 2010, this sporty, affordability based manufacturer came a long way from its early days.

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Kia Origins

Founded in 1944, Kia began its existence making steel tubing and bicycle parts. This led to the manufacturing of Korea's first domestically produced bicycle in the early 1950s, which then led to the first motor scooter, the C100. In 1952, Kia changed its name from Kyungsung Precision Industry, and it started building motorcycles in 1957, followed by three-wheeled trucks in 1962 and finally cars in 1974. The company opened the Sohari Plant, Korea's first integrated automotive assembly plant in 1973. The company then started to manufacture the first internal combustion gasoline engine in Korea, and soon thereafter the country's first domestically produced passenger vehicle, the Brisa. Toward the end of the 1970s, Kia's technology was used to manufacture vehicles such as the Fiat 132 and the Peugeot 604.

Kia in America

Starting in 1986, Kia partnered with U.S. auto giant Ford and began producing vehicles derived from another Ford auto partner, Mazda. These models were sold domestically in Korea, as well as in other countries. In 1987, the Kia Pride, which was based on the Mazda 121, was sold in the U.S. and Australia as the Ford Festiva. The Kia Avella became the Ford Aspire upon reaching the American market.

Kia began selling cars under its own name in the U.S. market in 1992, beginning with the Sephia. Initially available from four dealerships in Portland, Ore., the company grew its network one region at a time. The next vehicle was the Sportage, an entry into the popular SUV market. But, in 1997, further plans to expand were hampered by a bankruptcy filing, which resulted from funding pressures created by the Asian Financial Crisis. Post-bankruptcy, Hyundai acquired a 51 percent share of Kia Motors by outbidding the Ford Motor Company. Subsequent divestments have reduced Hyundai's shares to less than 50 percent of Kia Motors' holdings.

After the union with Hyundai, Kia expanded into the European market with production in Germany. Making right- and left-hand drive versions of the Sportage for different countries. By 2009, Kia had established its name in Britain and continued to expand into other areas.

In 2010, Kia opened a plant in Georgia, marking the start of U.S.-based production. The move came after 15 straight years of market share increase, despite filing bankruptcy and takeover attempts. This impressive feat is indicative of a bright future for the one time bicycle maker.

Kia Models

Lately, Kia's fortunes have continued to improve as the merger with Hyundai provides continued benefits. Overall refinement and build quality, which were once points of complaint, have improved noticeably. Another previously perceived weak point was reliability, which also improved. The company instituted a substantial warranty program, which caused a real increase in consumer confidence.

All this means that Kia now has a full lineup of coupes, crossovers, commercial vehicles, and sedans that are affordable, well-made and reliable. The brand promotes great value and performance while retaining sporty characteristics.

The company boasts a current lineup of 16 concept cars, thereby backing its claim that design is the most important facet of future endeavors. That's not to say that this Marque will stray too far away from its roots. Since the beginning, Kia emphasized affordable and well-equipped vehicles that are priced below competing models. The company managed to grow while keeping value a priority and not losing sight of the importance of technology and sportiness.

Starting in 2008, fuel-efficient electric hybrids were added to the Kia lineup. These include Soul Hybrid, Cee'd Hybrid, Ray plug-in Hybrid, and Spectra. In addition, Kia offers several commercial vehicles including the K4000s, AM928, and Granbird. The company now offers a full line of passenger cars, SUVs, and vans for just about every need, style, and taste.

The company's new emphasis for future growth is to focus on design. By hiring award winning designers and vowing to make the look of Kia vehicles more distinctive, it sets a direction for future moves. One of the new designers noted that when one sees a Kia on the road, it is impossible to tell if it's a Japanese car or a Korean car. Making sure that people can tell that the vehicle is a Kia at first sight is now a primary focus.

Select a Kia Model

Kia Amanti

2009-2004 | Midsize, Sedan

The Kia Amanti is a four-door sedan that was introduced in 2004.

Kia Borrego

2009 | SUV, Utility/Offroad

The Kia Borrego is a luxury SUV that was manufactured from 2008 to 2011 by South Korean carmaker, Kia Motors.

Kia Cadenza

2014 | Midsize, Sedan

Kia Forte

2014-2010 | Compact, Hatchback, Sedan

Kia Forte Koup

2014-2010 | Coupe, Sports

The Kia Forte Koup broke new ground for the Korean carmaker and launched Kia’s motorsports program.

Kia Forte5

2014 | Compact, Hatchback

Kia K900

2015 | Luxury, Sedan

Kia Optima

2014-2001 | Midsize, Sedan

Kia Optima is a midsize sedan manufactured post-2000 by Kia Motors that enjoyed a fairly successful track record.

Kia Optima Hybrid

2013-2011 | Hybrid, Midsize, Sedan

Kia Rio

2014-2001 | Compact, Hatchback, Sedan, Wagon

In 2000, Kia introduced the Kia Rio in the subcompact car category for the 2001 model year.

Kia Rio5

2014-2007 | Compact, Hatchback

Kia Rondo

2009-2007 | Minivan/Van, Wagon

Kia Sedona

2014, 2012-2002 | Minivan/Van

Kia Sephia

2001-1995 | Compact, Sedan

The compact four-door Kia Sephia derives its unusual name from an acronym using the first letters of these words: Style, Elegant, Powerful, High-tech, Ideal, and Auto.

Kia Sorento

2015-2011, 2009-2003 | SUV, Utility/Offroad

Built upon a traditional truck platform and introduced as a compact SUV in 2003, the Kia Sorento holds the unique distinction of being the first Kia car not entirely built in Korea; the Sorentos are partly assembled at Kia’s $1 billion U.S.

Kia Soul

2014-2010 | Compact, Hatchback, Wagon

Kia launched its Soul model in 2009 as a fun and exciting improvement to the industry’s economical class of vehicles.

Kia Spectra

2009-2000 | Compact, Hatchback, Sedan

The Kia Spectra is a compact car manufactured by South Korea-based automaker, Kia Motors.

Kia Spectra5

2009-2005 | Compact, Hatchback

The Kia Spectra5 is part of the Kia Spectra line, also called the Kia Cerato, which was first released in South Korea in 2003.

Kia Sportage

2014-2005, 2002-1995 | SUV, Utility/Offroad

The Kia Sportage was a bold crossover between a compact and an SUV, and debuted in 1993.

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