History of Kia
Kia is the second largest automobile manufacturer in South Korea, coming in just behind Hyundai. Originally founded in 1944 as Kyungsung Precision Industry, Kia didn’t start out as an automobile manufacturer.
The newly founded Kia Motors began making motorcycles until 1962. Seeing the growing popularity of the automobile, the company changed course and began producing commercial buses and trucks. Come 1973, after turning a profit, Kia opened the Sohari Plant, its first assembly plant. As a result, Kia turned its attention from light trucks to the creation of passenger cars.
Kia began exporting its vehicles between 1975 and 1981 during an agreement with Japanese manufacturer Mazda. Producing the Brisa line of cars, only 26 units were sold. After Kia began exporting cars, that number soared to over 95,000 by the next year. Through the 1980s, Kia maintained its commercial vehicle sales with the introduction of the Bongo Van and a truck partnership with Ford.
Kia Motors America was founded in 1992 and the company introduced several successful models, like the Sephia and Sportage. With the introduction of the Kia Enterprise, Shuma, and Retona, demand soared and Kia was forced to increase its production output.
The Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group formed at the end of the 1990s, granting the company a greater reputation of reliability. In 2000, Kia began producing motor rally cars and taking part in racing. In 2002, Kia passed the 10 million vehicles sold milestone.
In 2006, Kia established a new manufacturing in West Point, Georgia. Just two years later, the company added a new design center to the campus. The Kia Forte, one of the brand’s most popular cars, debuted in 2009 and the Kia Optima won the International Car of the Year Award in 2013.