Kia Motors Corporation is part of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, the fourth-largest automaker in the world. With its worldwide headquarters in Seoul, Korea, and operations in 155 countries, Kia has annual sales in excess of 1.4 million vehicles. A large part of Kia's global success is an understanding of the importance of producing vehicles that meet the needs of individual markets. So Kia has research facilities, design centres and assembly operations in North America, Europe and Asia.
Kia is South Korea's oldest car manufacturer, with its roots dating back to June 9, 1944, when it was founded as a manufacturer of hand-made bike parts and steel tubing. Until 1952, Kia operated as "Kyungsung Precision Industry." Kia began to build motorcycles in 1957, trucks in 1962, and finally, cars in 1974. In 1969, under the new banner of Kia (which translates roughly as "rising out of Asia") the company built its first automobile, the three-wheeled T-600 truck.
Kia was forced to leave the passenger car segment in 1981, when military dictator Chun Doo-hwan enforced industry consolidation. Kia spent the next five years focusing solely on light trucks. In 1986, Kia re-entered the passenger car segment in a partnership with Ford. Kia produced a number of Mazda-based vehicles (including the Kia Pride and Avella) for sale both at home, in South Korea, and for export worldwide.
In 1992, Kia became incorporated in the US, with the first Kia-branded vehicles being sold in a limited number of states. By 1995, over 100 Kia dealerships were in existence across 30 states, selling a record number of vehicles like the Kia Sephia and Sportage.
The Asian Financial Crisis forced the automaker to declare bankruptcy in 1997, at which time Hyundai Motor Company out-bid Ford Motor Company for a 51% stake in the Kia brand. Today, Hyundai owns less than 50% of Kia Motors, but remains the largest stakeholder.
In 2006, Kia hired Peter Schreyer as Chief Design Officer, a move that has helped the brand revamp its design philosophy, including the birth of the brand's new distinguishing "Tiger Nose" grille.
Kia vehicles are known for the immense value they offer. Exquisite design, premium materials, modern technology, and feature-packed cabins continue to impress car buyers worldwide.
In recent years, however, Kia has set out to change perceptions by releasing more premium cars, such as its Sportage and Sorento models.
Its latest endeavors, and flagships of its line-up, is the Stinger and Telluride. They are the result of nearly 10 years worth of design and engineering, and a move Hilbert, who joined the brand nearly 18 months ago to drive the transformation, argues will redefine Kia as a “luxury performance” brand.