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Kia Motors Corporation
Native name
기아자동차 주식회사
FormerlyKyungsung Precision Industry
KRX: 000270
FoundedDecember 1944; 77 years ago (1944-12)[1]
South Korea
Area served
Worldwide (except Japan and North Korea)
Key people
Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee, Vice Chairman and CEO
Han Woo-Park, President and co-CEO
Peter Schreyer, Chief Design Officer
Luxury cars
Commercial vehicles
Production output
Increase 3,007,976 units (2016)[2]
RevenueIncrease KRW52.713 trillion (2016)[3]
Increase KRW3.442 trillion (2016)[3]
Increase KRW2.755 trillion (2016)[3]
Total assetsIncrease KRW50.889 trillion (2016)[3]
Total equityIncrease KRW26.759 trillion (2016)[3]
Number of employees
53,255 (as of December 2013)[4]
ParentHyundai Motor Company (33.88%) (redirect)
Official website
KIA logo.svg
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGia Jadongcha
McCune–ReischauerKia Chadongch'a

Kia Motors Corporation, commonly known as Kia Motors.(Korean기아자동차; Hanja起亞自動車, IPA: [ki.a], lit.'"Kia automobile"'; stylized as KIɅ), headquartered in Seoul, is South Korea's second-largest automobile manufacturer, following the Hyundai Motor Company, with sales of over 3.3 million vehicles in 2015. As of December 2015, the Kia Motor Corporation is minority owned by Hyundai, which owns a 33.88% stake valued at just over US$6 billion. Kia in turn is a minority owner of more than twenty Hyundai subsidiaries ranging from 4.9% up to 45.37%, totaling more than US$8.3 billion.


According to Kia Motors, the name "Kia" derives from the Sino-Korean characters "ki" (起, "to arise") and "a" (亞, which stands for (East) Asia); it is roughly translated as "Rising from the East."[5][6][7]


Kia Motors' South Korean factory
Former Kia logo from 1994 to 2012

Kia was founded in December 1944 as Kyungsung Precision Industry, a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts, eventually producing Korea's first domestic bicycle, the Samchully, in 1951.[1] In 1952, Kyungsung Precision Industry changed its name to Kia Industries,[8] and later built Honda-licensed small motorcycles (starting in 1957), Mazda-licensed trucks (1962) and cars (1974). The company opened its first integrated automotive assembly plant in 1973, the Sohari Plant.[9] Kia built the small Brisa range of cars until 1981, when production came to an end after the new military dictator Chun Doo-hwan enforced industry consolidation. This forced Kia to give up passenger cars and focus entirely on light trucks.[10] Prior to the forced 1981 shutdown, Kia rounded out its passenger car lineup with two other foreign models assembled under license: the Fiat 132[11][12] and the Peugeot 604.[13][14] Starting in 1986 (when only 26 cars were manufactured, followed by over 95,000 the next year),[15] Kia rejoined the automobile industry in partnership with Ford. Kia produced several Mazda-derived vehicles for both domestic sales in South Korea and for export into other countries. These models included the Kia Pride, based on the Mazda 121 and the Avella, which were sold in North America and Australasia as the Ford Festiva and Ford Aspire. In 1992, Kia Motors America was incorporated in the United States. The first Kia-branded vehicles in the United States were sold from four dealerships in Portland, Oregon in 1992.[16] Since then, Kia methodically expanded one region at a time. Dealers in 1994 sold the Sephia; and a few years later, the United States segment expanded their line with the addition of the Sportage. Over one hundred Kia dealerships existed across thirty states by 1995, selling a record 24,740 automobiles.[17]

File:20170801 BEAT360.jpg
Kia central office at Gangnam District Seoul

However, during the Asian financial crisis, Kia declared bankruptcy in 1997; and in 1998 reached an agreement with Hyundai Motor Company to diversify by exchanging ownership between both companies. Hyundai Motor Company acquired 51% of the company, outbidding Ford Motor Company which had owned an interest in Kia Motors since 1986.[18] After subsequent divestments,[19] Hyundai Motor Company owns about one third of Kia Motor Corporation. While Hyundai Motor Company remains Kia's largest stakeholder, Kia Motor Company also retains ownership in some 22 different Hyundai Motor Company subsidiaries.[20] Since 2005, Kia has focused on the European market and has identified design as its "core future growth engine"—leading to the hiring of Peter Schreyer in 2006 as chief design officer[21] and his subsequent creation of a new corporate grille known as the 'Tiger Nose'.[22][23] In October 2006, Kia Motors America broke ground for Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia in West Point, Georgia, representing a US$1 billion investment for the company.[24] Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia opened in February 2010, after Kia recorded its 15th consecutive year of increased U.S. market share.[25] In August 2014, the company received international attention when Pope Francis of the Catholic Church rode in one of their compact cars, the Kia Soul, during a five-day visit to South Korea.[26][27] The Kia Soul drew bigger attention than two other vehicles used by the Pope, their Kia Carnival and Hyundai's Santa Fe, because it appeared in the high-profile welcoming ceremony of his arrival at the Seoul Airport on August 14.[28][29] In 2016, Kia Motors model reliability was ranked first in the United States by J.D. Power and Associates, becoming the first non-luxury automaker since 1989 to top that list.[30]

Affiliations and subsidiaries

Hyundai Motor Company

As of December 31, 2015, the Hyundai Motor Company owns a 33.88% stake in Kia Motors.[31] Likewise, as of December 31, 2015, Kia Motors is owner in 22 different Hyundai companies. Its ownership percentages range from 4.9% up to 45.37%.[32]

Kia Motors Corporation

Kia Motors Corporation (KMC), founded in 1944, is South Korea's oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles and is now a subsidiary of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group. Over 1.5 million vehicles a year are produced in 13 manufacturing and assembly operations in eight countries. These are then sold and serviced through a network of distributors and dealers covering 172 countries. Kia today has 40,000 full-time employees worldwide and annual revenues of over US$14.6 billion. Kia Motors Corporation's brand slogan is "The Power to Surprise". From August 2009 until December 2012, the company was led by Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee.[33]

Kia Motors America

Kia Motors America (KMA) is the American sales, marketing, and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA is based in Irvine, California. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 755 dealers throughout the United States. For 2008, KMA recorded its 14th consecutive year of increased U.S. market share. In November 2009, Kia started production at the first U.S. Kia Motors plant, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, in West Point. As of December 2011, the facility was building the 2012 Kia Sorento crossover vehicle and the 2012 Kia Optima sedan.[citation needed]

Kia Motors Europe

Kia Motors Europe (KME) is the European sales and marketing division of Kia Motors Corporation (KMC). It has been selling cars in Europe since the first half of 1991.

In 2007, KME moved from its previous location at Hauptstrasse 185, Eschborn (near Frankfurt), to a new purpose-built facility adjacent to the Messe, in Frankfurt city centre.

When Kia launched in Europe during 1991, it initially sold only the Pride supermini—a rebadged version of the late 1980s Mazda 121. It initially proved popular with buyers. By the end of 1991, Kia had sold nearly 1,800 Prides in the United Kingdom. The first full year, 1992, saw that figure double, and, in 1993, it increased again to nearly 5,500 units. However, sales fell towards the end of the decade, and the end of production was finally announced in May 2000, with its successor – the Rio – not going on sale for another year.

From 1995 to 1999, Kia produced left- and right-hand drive versions of the first generation Sportage SUV at the Karmann factory in Osnabrück, Germany. These have been popular across Europe, but, since 2002, Kia has gained more sales in this market thanks to the launch of the larger Sorento. From 1999 until production of the model ceased in 2003, all Sportage production reverted to South Korea.

The European range also expanded in the spring of 1994 when Kia began importing the larger Mentor, a range of medium-sized hatchbacks and sedans which were marketed as inexpensive and well-equipped alternatives to the likes of the Ford Escort and the Vauxhall/Opel Astra.

A facelift in 1999 saw the Mentor name retained for the saloon (sedan), but the hatchback was renamed Shuma. These models remained on sale until 2004, when the newer Cerato was launched and gave Kia one of its first serious competitors against mainstream brands. The Clarus saloon and Sedona MPV were also launched onto the UK market during 1999, helping Kia begin its rise in popularity.

Despite Kia's range increasing from one car as late as 1993 to three cars by the end of 1995, British sales actually decreased in that period, from nearly 5,500 in 1993 to less than 4,000 the following year. In 1998, Kia's future in Britain was thrown into serious doubt when it sold less than 3,000 of its whole range – the worst in any full year on the British market. Kia did not enter Europe's large family car market until the launch of its Clarus four-door sedan in 1999—a year behind schedule due to the financial difficulties that Kia was facing before it was taken over by Hyundai. This car was similar in size to the Ford Mondeo and the Opel/Vauxhall Vectra, but, on its launch, was actually less expensive to buy than the smaller Focus and the Astra. It had a spacious interior, large boot, competitive asking price, and high equipment levels, but it had little more appeal to sway buyers away from established European brands like Ford, Vauxhall/Opel and Peugeot.

Its successor, the Magentis, launched in 2001, was still nowhere near as popular as Kia might have hoped it would be, although with a sub-£14,000 asking price it offered the cheapest V6-engined car in the UK, by which time it was rare enough for a six-cylinder car to be priced at less than £20,000.

Kia entered the MPV market in 1999 with the Sedona. On its launch, it was the lowest-priced, full-size people carrier on sale in the United Kingdom. With the range expanded by 1999, sales for that year reached almost 6,400 – more than double the previous year's total. That annual sales figure had almost been matched in 2000 by the end of May, reflecting Kia's growing popularity with British buyers.[34] By 2009, Kia was firmly established as a popular brand in Britain, when sales broke the 50,000 barrier for the first time and the brand now had a share of more than 2% in the new car market. The Picanto was the most popular single model with nearly 17,000 sales.[35]

In late 2006, Kia opened its first own plant in Europe at a cost of approximately EUR 1.7 billion in Žilina, Slovakia, in the village of Teplička nad Váhom, after construction between October 2004 and December 2005. It has since produced over 2.5 million units of the Kia Cee'd, Kia Sportage and Kia Venga, as well as seven types of engines. In 2016, 339,500 cars and 612,915 engines were manufactured.[36] The area of the plant is 166 ha and Mobis Slovakia, the largest supplier, is situated right on the carmaker's premises. As of December 31, 2016, 3,625 employees worked in the facility, while their average age was 35.[37] The relatively low number of employees working in three shifts is related to a high degree of automation as well as high integration with Mobis Slovakia. In 2016, Kia Motors Slovakia recorded revenue of EUR 5.56 billion. Although the European car market knows significant difficulties, Kia announced increased sales in 2013.[38]

Kia Motors Mexico

The company has built a $1 billion manufacturing plant in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo León, which produces 300,000 cars a year. Details of the factory, built in the city of Pesquería, were revealed in a joint press conference given by Kia Motors CEO Hyoung-Keun Lee and the President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City on August 28, 2014. The plant was expected to be completed in the first half of 2016.[39] This factory is involved in controversies because it was built on unevenly purchased land and the construction agreement was made with advantage conditions and out of the local dispositions to Kia.[40][41]

Kia Motors India

The company has entered the Indian market in July 2019[42] with their 'Made for India' SUV- SP2 Concept now announced as the global mid-sized SUV Kia Seltos. The company has built a production facility on a Greenfield land in Anantpur district, Andhra Pradesh near Penukonda. The annual production capacity is 300,000 units. Kia Motors has appointed Kookhyun Shim as MD & CEO for its Indian arm. In his new role, Shim will be responsible for leading the carmaker's expansion in the Indian market. Shim will play a leading role in ensuring KMI's projected timeline and schedule of operations is achieved. He also oversaw the construction of Kia Motor's first manufacturing facility in India, to help strengthen the company's position in the fifth largest global automotive market. Kia has committed investments to the tune of $1.1 billion to develop operations in India including investing in a network of over 250 customer touch-points that include service, sales and spares establishments.

Kia Lucky Motors Pakistan

Kia Lucky Motors (KLM) is a joint venture in Pakistan between Kia Motors and Lucky Cement. Originally importing completely built units (CBU) since 1 June 2018, KLM will begin local production by September 2019.[43]

Kia Defense

Kia Motors has specialized in the production of military vehicles with variants and other transportation equipment and by supplying them as a sole maker of military vehicles designated by the South Korean Government since 1976, when Kia Heavy Industry Co. Ltd. (now known as Hyundai Wia) was established. Kia is currently designing a Kaiser Jeep M715-type vehicle named the KM450 for the South Korean Army on license from the U.S. Government. Kia is also the owner of the former ex-Asia Motors factory at Gwangju.


Current fleet of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles
  • Kia Borrego SUV
  • Kia Carnival MPV
  • Kia Cadenza sedan/hatchback
  • Kia Forte/Cerato sedan/hatchback
  • Kia K900/K9 luxury sedan
  • Kia Morning/Picanto
  • Kia Niro hybrid/electric SUV
  • Kia Optima sedan/hatchback
  • Kia Quoris sedan
  • Kia Rio sedan/hatchback
  • Kia Rondo
  • Kia Sedona minivan
  • Kia Seltos SUV
  • Kia Sorento SUV
  • Kia Soul hatchback
  • Kia Soul EV Hatchback
  • Kia Sportage SUV
  • Kia Stinger sports sedan
  • Kia Telluride SUV


Design emphasis

In the past, the Kia cars were very neutral. When you saw one on the road, you didn't really know if it was Korean or Japanese…I think it's very important that you are able to recognize a Kia at first sight.

— Peter Schreyer[44]

Beginning in 2006 Kia identified design as its "core future growth engine" – leading to the 2006 hiring of Peter Schreyer and to the 2005 hiring Tom Kearns as Chief Design Officer.[21] Schreyer had previously worked at Audi (designing the Audi TT) and Volkswagen and had won the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany.[45] Kearns had previously worked at Cadillac as Chief Design Officer and was responsible for influencing Cadillac's direction of hard angles and sharp lines within their design.[46] Schreyer has since been central to a complete restyling of Kia's lineup,[47] overseeing design activities at Kia's design centers in Frankfurt, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and the Namyang Design Center in South Korea.[48] With the Kee concept vehicle, shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007,[23] Kia introduced a new corporate grille[23] to create a recognizable 'face' for the brand. Known as the Tiger Nose, Schreyer indicated he wanted "a powerful visual signal, a seal, an identifier. The front of a car needs this recognition, this expression. A car needs a face and I think the new Kia face is strong and distinctive. Visibility is vital and that face should immediately allow you to identify a Kia even from a distance."[23] Schreyer described how the Kia Tiger Nose came to be as he explained, "I was just working on the car and just thinking about different possibilities, and suddenly I found it."[49] Commenting on the new signature grille in 2009: "From now on, we'll have it on all our cars".[50] Kia has since featured the Tiger Nose on all of their vehicles, ranging from the compact Kia Soul, on to the edgy new design of the Kia Optima, and to the larger SUV, the Kia Telluride. Kia cars have won the International Car of the Year award every year since 2013.[51]


In late 2012, Kia Motors was forced to admit error in inflating its United States Environmental Protection Agency mileage claims and had to reduce its fuel economy claims in the U.S. by about 3 percent across the board and to offer compensation to previous vehicle buyers.[52]

Nuevo León plant

Announcement of the Kia assembly plant, Mexico City, 2014

Since 2014, Kia Motors has been involved in controversies in Mexico due to alleged irregularities in the construction of one of its manufacturing plants, located in the municipality of Pesquería, Nuevo León. The construction of the plant was done in an irregularly purchased land agreement between Kia Motors Mexico and the State of Nuevo León, then headed by Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz, was signed with unfairly advantageous conditions, such as bigger tax incentives than those allowed by Mexican law (tax exemptions for 20 years when the standard is 5), extended to the Mexican providers of Kia.[40] A copy of the full agreement was published in Facebook by current Nuevo León governor, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, as part of a prosecution case against Medina[53] and he declared that the signed agreement with his predecessor would be cancelled.[54] A new agreement was then reached with Rodriguez's administration on June 2016.[55] Former governor Medina de la Cruz and 30 other officials of the former state administration were investigated by an anti-corruption prosecutor for alleged embezzlement, improper exercise of public functions and damage to Nuevo León State assets.[56][57] Medina was then taken into custody on January 26, 2017, in relation to this case and others in which he is involved.[56]


Kia Motors sponsors the following sports teams, events and athletes:

Sports associations

Sports events

Sports teams




Music events

Charity events



  • KIA, The Car That Cares (2000–2006)
  • KIA, The Power To Surprise (2006–2018)

See also


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External links