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History of KIA: Inspiring Design, Exceptional Value

Drive the KIA Difference – Discover History of KIA

1944 – 1950 – Kyongseong Precision

It was 1944 when the Kyongseong Precision Corporation was founded. From its modest beginnings as a bicycle manufacturer on the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea, Kia will become a major powerhouse of the Korean automobile industry over the years. Not surprisingly, it will be the first company to make a car in this country and the first to also export it.

1951 – 1960 – The first bicycle was “made in Korea.”

The company started manufacturing the first Korean bicycle, the “Samchonriho,” in 1952. It also changed its name to Kia Industry Co., Ltd . Five years later, construction work on the Siheung factory was completed.

1961 – 1970 – The vans arrive

In 1962, Kia began producing the K-360 pickup (the first to come out of the Siheung factory). Later came the T-1500 (1963), T-2000 (1967), and T-600 (1969). All of them are characterized by having three wheels and two seats, in addition to the open rear.

1971 – 1980 – The first passenger car

The decade begins with the creation of the Kia Service company (1971). A year later, the presentation of the Titan E-2000, the first van, takes place. The construction of the Sohari plant was completed in 1973 when the production of gasoline engines (2,000 cc) began, and the Brisa Pickup B-1000 was presented. Following him comes the Brisa 1.0 (1974), the first Korean passenger car. The exports started in 1975, three years before making mechanical diesel. Subsequently, and under other agreements, Kia produces the Peugeot 604 and Fiat 132 models.

1981 – 1990 – The proliferation of passenger cars

The decade of the ’80s is very productive. In 1981 the Bongo appeared, a nine-seater van. Subsequently, the Seres, a van with all-wheel drive (1983), and the Besta (1986), a vehicle very similar to the Bongo, were born.

The agreement with Ford Motor Company (1986) enables Kia to manufacture the small Pride (1987), a model that was developed in the first R&D center (opened in 1984). That same year the Concord arrives. Already in 1988, the brand reached one million units produced. In addition, it begins the manufacture of two 2.5 and 5-ton trucks. The departure of Capital (1989), the adoption of the name Kia Motors Corporation, and the completion of the construction of the Asan (Hwasung) plant mark the end of this period.

1991 – 2000 – Hyundai-Kia Automotive was born

The small SUV Rocsta kicks off this decade, in which Kia opens its subsidiaries in the United States and Europe (Spain included) with the launch of the Sephia (1992). Later the Towner Coach and Potentia models came to light; Sportage (1993); Avella (1994); Elan (1996), a model developed in collaboration with Lotus; Shuma (1997), a mid-size saloon, and the Enterprise luxury sedan.

The year 1998 is vital: Hyundai Motor takes control of Kia Motor. On the other hand, exports reach two million units, and the Carnival begins to be produced. The product range was completed with the arrival of the Carens and the Rio in 1999.

As a result of the takeover, Mong-Koo Chung, President of Hyundai, created the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, Kia Motors Corporation, Hyundai Motor Company, Hyundai Mobis (parts supplier), and 19 other companies related to his business unit. The two brands continue to operate independently in the market, although they share R&D centers and component distribution networks.

2001 – A prosperous stage

Kia reaches ten million units manufactured in 2002. In addition, during the first years of this decade, it continues to launch new modelsRio and Carnival II (2001); Sorento, Regal, and Optima (2002); Cerato, Opirus, and Xtrek (2003); SportagePicanto, and Cerato five doors (2004). In addition, on this same date, the construction of the factory in Slovakia begins.

The Korean brand continues its growth. Regarding Spain, Kia Motors Spain, created as an independent company, was acquired by the parent company in 2003 and is renamed Kia Motors Iberia. On the other hand, the Korean giant’s exports reached five million in 2005, which the new Carnival and Rio were presented. A year later, the construction of the factory in Georgia (United States) and the presentation of the Carens and Cerato 1.6 VGT.

The plant in Slovakia and the second factory in China were opened in 2007. The cee’d be launched, the cee’d Sporty Wagon (Geneva Motor Show), and the pro_cee’d (Frankfurt Motor Show) is introduced.

At the end of 2008, the Soul, the new Cerato, and the Magentis arrive. In addition, the Korean manufacturer opened its headquarters and design center in the United States.

In 2012, it sold a new saloon, the Kia Optima, which replaces the Magentis and in 2013, it launched the new generation of the cee’d, with up to 9 models in its catalog.

Today, Kia has grown to such an extent that it is represented in 172 countries and has more than 40,000 employees.

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