The Korean company, which is now known as the Kia Motors Corporation, was founded in 1944 and was initially called KyungSung Precision Industry. At first, the company was engaged in the manufacture of a small range of parts for bicycle repair. At that time there was no opportunity to produce them independently in the country - there was neither experience nor funds, so they were all imported. Only two years later, the company was able to raise capital and purchase the necessary equipment, after which the first domestic bicycles appeared in Korea.
Soon a war broke out, dividing the country into South and North Korea, and severely slowing down the development of production. In 1952, the impoverished countries ended the conflict, and the KyungSung company was able to continue production, but under the name Kia Industrial Company. The growing demand for low-cost two-wheelers allowed the company to open a new plant in 1955 and accelerate the company's growth.
Six years later, Kia launched the first motorized vehicle, the C-100 motorcycle, and in 1962 introduced the first three-wheeled truck. It had very small dimensions, however, even such equipment was not yet produced in Korea, and it was in great demand. The first four-wheeled trucks rolled off the Kia line in 1971 with the Titan and Boxer models that also became very popular. At the same time, a partnership agreement was signed with Mazda.
In 1972, the South Korean government issues a license to Kia to manufacture automobiles. Thanks to cooperation with Mazda, the company manages to develop and launch production of its own engines in a short time, and after only 2 years the first model of a passenger car, Kia Brisa, was presented. The demand for these vehicles allowed the Korean company to take over the truck manufacturer Asia Motors, as well as open two subsidiaries.
Kia's strong growth and high quality products have attracted the attention of global automakers. In 1978, the company obtained the right to license the production of Peugeot 604 and FIAT 132 vehicles for sale in the Korean domestic market. At the same time, the company's engineers developed their first diesel engine, which was used in the company's own models.
However, in 1981, the management of Kia decided to switch the company's activities to the production of commercial vehicles, and the production of passenger cars was frozen. The company presented a small truck, a pickup truck, and also a passenger minibus made on a single base Bongo, and after another 2 years it released a new model called Ceres. In the same 1983, a part of Kia shares was bought out by the Japanese corporation Mazda, which decided to restart the production of passenger cars. This was done in a very timely manner, as the company had already started experiencing financial problems associated with insufficient sales. But thanks to the expansion of the model range and the provision of access to Mazda technologies, the Korean firm has gone on the mend. In 1987, the budget Kia Pride was released, which was based on the Mazda 121 chassis. The demand for this model allowed the company to once again become a successful enterprise and start developing new cars. A year later, the millionth car of the brand came off the assembly line.
Also, "Kia Industrial" did not abandon the development of commercial vehicles. In 1988, the company's novelties in this direction were presented - the models of the Rhino and Trade trucks, as well as the Besta minibus. In the early 90s, all of the company's products were in great demand, which allowed it to open a number of new factories. The company was restructured, as well as the name was changed to "Kia Motors Corporation", after which cars under this brand began to be supplied to the European market.
In 1991, 2 passenger cars from Kia were presented - Sportage and Sephia. They received good marks at car dealerships around the world, and the first of them was awarded the title of “Best Car of the Year” by IntelliChoice for two years in a row. In 1996, the Kia Sportage took part in the Sahara Desert Rally.
1992 in the history of the company was marked by the opening of an official representative office in the USA. The Kia Sephia, which had an 80-horsepower 1.6-liter engine, appealed to American buyers. Also, "Kia Motors" released a budget model called the Avella.
The difficult economic situation in Asia in 1997 bankrupted the company, and it was forced to list its assets for sale. However, the final closure of Kia was prevented by compatriots from Hyundai, who bought out a controlling stake in the company at the end of 1998. In 1999, the establishment of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group was announced.
In 2001, new models of Kia cars were presented - updated budgetary Pride and Avella, a place in the middle price category was taken by Sephia II, and the Clarus II station wagon became the flagship of the brand, which had 2 engine options, with a capacity of 116 and 133 horsepower; the basic configuration included power steering, air conditioning, airbags and much more. Also, the spacious trunk has become a huge advantage.
In 2002, Kia produced its 10 millionth car. Optima, Regal and Sorento were added to the lineup of the manufacturer, and a year later the Cerato golf sedan and Magentis and Opirus business sedans were presented. After another 2 years, the company celebrated the achievement of the export number of cars of the 5 million mark.
In 2006, Peter Schreier, known for his work for Audi and Volkswagen, took over as chief designer at Kia Motors. He brought a new distinctive feature to the appearance of the company's cars - it became a unique radiator grill, called "Tiger's Smile". In the period from 2008 to 2011, sales of cars of the brand grew by more than 80%, amounting to almost 2.5 million units annually.
In 2012, Peter Schreier took over as President of Design at the company, becoming the first foreigner in Kia's senior management.
As a result of the fruitful work, the Korean company received 7 awards in 2013, among which the USA's recognition of the Kia Optima as "International Car of the Year" deserves special attention. It is worth noting that a year earlier, this sedan became Kia's best-selling car.
In 2013, Kia introduced the futuristic Niro crossover, and two years later announced its serial production. This car could become a serious competitor to Nissan Juke, Opel Mokka and Renault Captur. The design of this crossover was developed by the European design studio Kia, it is very different from all previous ones and intends to make a vivid impression, especially on football players from the EU, in fact, based on the tastes and preferences of which this novelty was created.
In September 2015, the debut of the next Kia Sportage SUV took place. It was made on the Tucson SUV platform and received an updated front panel, a slightly modified radiator grille, different headlights and massive wheel arches. Under its hood are 1.2, 1.6 and 2-liter T-GDI engines with power ranging from 132 horsepower to 245. The sale of the Kia Sportage SUV should begin at the end of 2015.