So you’re shopping for a new car, considering KIA and you’re wondering why everyone is so fanatical about the brand. You think to yourself “Maybe it’s time to learn about the brand?” but you’re not sure where to start — that’s okay, this blog has got you covered. KIA is more than just a car brand, it’s the efforts of an entire country, it’s a family and most importantly it’s a lifestyle.
Whether you’re new to the brand or a lifelong fan, this list of five fun facts is sure to make you smile. Once you’re done reading this list, make sure to pay a visit to Matteson’s favorite KIA dealer — Hawkinson KIA. Here at Hawkinson KIA, we carry Matteson’s largest selection of new and used KIA vehicles, including the electrified EV6. If you want to get the best deal on your next KIA, don’t shop anywhere else but at Hawkinson KIA located in Matteson.
Originally founded in May of 1944, KIA is Korea’s oldest motor vehicle manufacturer. KIA originally began as a bicycle and motorcycle manufacturer under the name of Kyungsung Precision Industry, producing bicycle parts and steel tubes. By 1952, the company had switched its name to Kia Industries and began building Honda-licensed motorcycles just five short years later.
With over 75 years as a company, KIA has managed to become the world’s fifth-largest auto manufacturer — producing over 1.4 million vehicles annually. KIA operates 14 manufacturing and assembly facilities across eight countries, employing more than 40,000 people and bringing in over $17 Billion in annual revenue. Safe to say, KIA is one company you’ll be seeing around for a long while.
As mentioned before, when Kia first began, it produced bicycles and motorcycles long before it began producing cars. Before KIA began producing cars, they made Korea’s first domestic bicycle under the brand name Samchully in 1951.
By 1973, KIA had opened its first integrated automotive assembly plant called the Sohari Plant. At the Sohari Plant, KIA was producing cars based on the Mazda “Brisa” platform until 1981. For a short period of time after 1981, KIA focused its efforts on producing light trucks — with no passenger cars being produced again until 1986.
In 1986, KIA teamed up with Ford and resumed production of passenger cars. This resulted in the budget-friendly KIA Pride being produced, a vehicle that was based on the Mazda 121 and Avella platforms. By 1992, KIA had found its way into the United States, with the first dealerships opening up in Portland, Oregon. This would prove fruitful, as KIA has been a staple in the United States auto industry ever since.
Is itself. You read that right! Kia’s most significant competitor is Hyundai, its own sister company. By 1997, KIA was filing for bankruptcy due to the Asian financial crisis and turned to fellow Korean automaker Hyundai for some help. Hyundai then entered a bidding war with Ford Motor Company, with each company attempting to gain control of the valuable Korean car brand.
Just a short year later, the two Korean automakers joined forces thus forming The Hyundai Motor Group. This merger made The Hyundai Motor Group the world’s fifth-largest vehicle manufacturer.
Although KIA may excel at producing and selling fun, reliable and affordable commuter vehicles — that isn't all they sell. Since 1976 KIA has manufactured military-grade vehicles for the South Korean Army as a part of its KIA Defense division. KIA Defense produces six vehicles for the South Korean Army currently, with ongoing R&D being done on a Kaiser Jeep M715-type vehicle.
Not much else is known about KIA Defense, as the company does like to keep its military-grade vehicle plans somewhat of a secret. However, we can assume that the same reliability we have come to expect in commuter KIA vehicles is the exact same reliability one could expect in a KIA-built military vehicle. Hopefully one day there will be a museum with all of KIA’s produced military vehicles so all of us KIA fans could enjoy them together.
KIA is much more than a catchy name and flashy logo, it actually has meaning. “KIA” is a mashup of two Sino-Korean characters ? (ki) which loosely translates to “to rise” and ? (a), which stands for “East”. Together the characters spell the brand name KIA, which when translated, means “Rising from the East”.
And rise KIA did — in 77 short years, KIA has become world-renowned for its reliability. Aside from its impeccable reliability and reputation, KIA is also known for having some of the most affordable vehicles on the planet. In 2016, J.D. Power and Associates proudly named KIA as the United States' top-ranking auto manufacturer when it comes to reliability. This honor made KIA the first non-luxury brand to top that list since 1989.
While this may be your first KIA, we assure you that it won’t be your last. Equipped with some fun facts about the brand and new KIA vehicle, it’s time for you to hit the road in style. Each time you get behind the wheel of a KIA you get to experience over 75 years of passion and innovation — so why drive anything else?
For all of your KIA servicing needs, make sure to stop by Hawkinson KIA located in Matteson. Here at Hawkinson KIA, we don’t just sell KIAs — we keep them running too. Our KIA-certified technicians are dedicated to keeping your car in tip-top shape, so schedule an appointment or stop by our service center today! Matteson’s favorite KIA dealer, Hawkinson KIA is where you will find the best deals on new and used KIAs — including the new EV6.