Kia Motor Corporation is South Korea's second biggest automobile manufacturer. It has more than seven decades' experience producing cars and has a global footprint spanning close to 200 countries.
The organization started off as Kyungsung Precision Industry. Founded in South Korea in December 1944, the company originally produced steel tubing and bicycle parts. In 1945, it opened its first plant in Seoul and its second one in Busan.
The year 1952 marked two important milestones in the company's history. First, it introduced the Samchully, Korea's first bicycle. Second, the company changed its name to Kia Industries.
The organization started manufacturing motorcycles in 1957, trucks in 1962, and cars in 1974 following the opening of the Sohari Plant, Kia's first automotive assembly facility, in 1973. Kia produced the small Brisa range of cars until 1981, when then new military dictator Chun Doo-hwan ordered industry consolidation, prompting Kia to halt production of passenger cars and focus on trucks instead.
In 1986, Kia re-entered the automobile industry through a partnership with American car manufacturer Ford. Mazda-derived vehicles started rolling out of Kia's assembly plants ready to be delivered to dealerships in South Korea and in America, where the cars were marketed as Ford Festiva and Ford Aspire. Kia declared bankruptcy in 1997 following the Asian Financial Crisis. It coped by diversifying and entering into an agreement with Hyundai Motor to swap ownerships. Hyundai acquired 51% shares in Kia and eventually reduced this 33.88 percent. Kia, in turn, purchased shares at 22 Hyundai subsidiaries.
In 2006, Kia Motors decided to put emphasis on core design. The company hired Audi and Volkswagen designer Peter Schreyer and Cadillac designer Tom Kearns as Chief Design Officers. The pair worked on restyling Kia's vehicle lineup. Schreyer introduced the Kia "Tiger Nose" which has since become a trademark of every Kia car.
Kia has been serving the Philippine market for over 24 years. Today, the South Korean maker has a network of 37 dealerships nationwide. In December 2018, Ayala Corporation-owned subsidiary AC Industrial Technology Holdings Inc. took over the local distributorship of Kia vehicles in the country. Kia Philippines is coming from a three-year losing streak and is banking on the change in distributorship to turn things around. Previously, Kia was exclusively distributed by Columbian Autocar Corporation, which remains a minority stakeholder.
Kia's current lineup of vehicles available to Filipino customers consist of the Picanto, Rio five-door hatchback, Sportage, Sorento, Grand Carnival, Soluto, Singer, and Forte.
The Picanto, a five-door hatchback, is the cheapest car in Kia Philippine's lineup and was also the company's best-selling model in the country for the year 2018. First produced in 2004, this model is now on its third generation. Under the hood, the Picanto is powered by a 1.2-liter Kappa four-cylinder multi-point fuel injected engine with dual CVVT that can deliver up to 66 horsepower at 5,500 revolutions per minute (rpm) and 95 Nm of torque at 3,750 rpm. Prospective buyers have a choice between a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.
The Kia Rio five-door hatchback is one of Kia's more popular models and is aimed at large families. Even though it is marketed as an entry-level hatchback, it boasts of a premium-looking inside cabin. This model uses a 1.4-liter four-cylinder petrol engine that can produce a maximum output of 99 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and a peak torque of 400 horsepower at 1,750 to 2,750 rpm.
The Sportage is a compact premium cross-over vehicle that has been in production since 1993. All units sold in the Philippines come in a 2.0-liter diesel engine paired to a six-speed conventional transmission. It can generate up to 182 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 400 Nm at 1,750 to 2.750 rpm. The Sorento is a mid-sized crossover sports utility vehicle (SUV) that has been in production since 2002. Now on its third generation, this nameplate is Kia's flagship SUV designed to improve Kia's image as a premium car manufacturer. The model is available in a 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel powerhouse sourced from Hyundai. It is attached on an eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver up to 197 horsepower and a peak torque of 440 Nm.
Kia maintains three design centers globally. The Namyang Design Center in Hwaseong, South Korea is the organization's main design facility; it is shared with parent company Hyundai. Another facility, the Kia Design Center Europe, may be found in Frankfurt Germany, and a third one -- the Kia Design Center America -- in Irvine, California. Kia operates four manufacturing plants in South Korea, namely the Sohari Plant, the Hwaseong Plant, the Gwangju Plant, and the Seosan Plant. It also has factories in other geographies, including the Chu Lai Plant in Vietnam, Zilina Plant in Slovakia, the Yancheng Plant in China, Kia Motors India, Monterrey Plant, and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.