The Kia motor company has the distinction of being South Korea's oldest car company. Kia did not start out as an automobile manufacturer at all. Kia actually began in 1944 as a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycles. Originally called the Kyungsung Precision Industry it changed its name to Kia when it began producing motorized vehicles such as motorcycles, trucks and cars.
Today Kia Motors is a subsidiary of Hyundai KIA Automotive Grove and is South Korea's second largest automobile manufacturer. Its CEO is Chung Eui-sun and has its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. Kia Motors also maintains a presence in the United States as Kia Motors America and on October 20, 2006 broke ground for its first United States assembly plant in West Point, Georgia. Kia Motors has enjoyed tremendous success on the European market and is currently the fast growing car company in the United Kingdom.
The name Kia was derived from the Sino-Korean word ki, which means to come out, and the word a which means Asia. Translated it means to arise or come out of Asia or rising out of Asia.
Starting in 1986 Kia entered a partnership with Ford to produce several Mazda based vehicles for sale in South Korea and to be exported into other countries.
Kia officially arrived in the United States in 1992 however; it would be 1994 before the first Kia's would be sold in the United States. The first ones were available at four dealerships in Portland, Oregon. The first Kia models to be sold on the United States were the Sephia to be followed shortly by the Sportage.
Kia suffered tremendous loses in 1997 as a part of the financial meltdown experienced by Asia during that time. The company was forced to file bankruptcy and was acquired by Hyundai Motor Company. Because Ford had owned a portion of Kia since 1986, it also tried to acquire the company however, Hyundai was able to outbid Ford and Ford lost all but it's previously owned interest in the company.
Today Kia Motors has reorganized and now offers vehicles through 640 dealerships throughout the United States. Kia has enjoyed a fair amount of success in the North American market and in 2008 recoded its 14th consecutive year of increased U.S. Market share.
Kia has enjoyed quite a bit of success in the European market as well. It began importing cars to Europe in 1991. The Pride would be the first model to be offered there and proved quite popular with buyers. Kia maintains a presence in Europe as well. The Kia Motors Europe group is the European sales and marketing division of KIA Motors Corporation. It is now located adjacent to the Messe in Frankfurt, Germany.
Kia Motors has been in the European market for just over 16 years. Kia has certainly come a long way since its first offering of just one model. Today, Kia has expanded through midsize and full size sedans to the larger SUV's. The Sportage, Kia's SUV has been popular across Europe since its launch and with the introduction of the Sedona, the cheapest full-size people carrier in the United Kingdom, it is difficult to image a slowdown for Kia anytime in the near future.