Kia Motors headquartered in Seoul, is South Korea’s second largest automobile manufacturer, with sales of over 1.4 million vehicles in 2010. The company is partly owned by the Hyundai KIA Automotive Group and since August 2009, is led by Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee. The word Kia derives from Korean words meaning “to arise to the world from Asia.”
South Korea’s oldest car company, Kia was founded on June 9, 1944 as a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts by hand and has operated as one of the country’s Chaebols since. In 1952, Kia changed its name from Kyungsung Precision Industry, and later built motorcycles (starting in 1957), trucks (1962) and cars (1974). The company opened its first integrated automotive assembly plant in 1973, the Sohari Plant. Starting in 1986, in partnership with Ford, Kia produced several Mazda derived vehicles for both domestic sales in South Korea into other countries. These models include the Pride and 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 1994. Since then, Kia expanded methodically one region at a time. Dealers in 1994 sold the Sephia, and a few years later the United States line expanded with the addition of the Sportage.
During the Asian financial crisis, Kia declared bankruptcy in 1997; in 1998 Hyundai Motor Company acquired 51% of the company outbidding Ford Motor Company which had owned an interest in Kia Motors since 1986. After subsequent divestments, Hyundai Motor Company owns less than 40% of the company.
In Pakistan the market of KIA is not as much flourished as other vehicles in all small, saloon and 4×4 categories. But still limited community in Pakistan likes KIA vehicles especially KIA Sportage as it competes easily to other 4×4 brands in Pakistan due to their durability and power.