In hardly 20 years or so, South Korean automaker Kia has transformed itself from a rather unknown car brand into a global market leader. Kia vehicles are extremely popular all over the world, and their vast lineup includes everything from compact hatchbacks and SUVs to minivans and performance sedans. Kia owners from around the world praise their cars for affordability, outstanding quality and off course striking looks.
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Since Kia has presence in our market and has a decent fan base as well, we have compiled a list of interesting facts about the South Korean brand that you might not be aware of. Have a read:
Founded In 1944 as a Bicycle Manufacturer
Like most car manufacturers, Kia started in a business that had little to do with cars. In 1944, Kyungsung Precision Industry – the company that would eventually become Kia Motors was founded as a manufacturer of bicycle parts and steel tubes. In 1951, they achieved an important milestone by making the first Korean bicycle under the name of Samchully.
The Name Translates as “Rising from the East”
According to Kia, their name is not just a meaningless syllable. It actually consists of two Sino-Korean characters: 起 (ki), which means “to come out” or “to rise,” and 亞 (a), which means “East” or “Asia.” Hence, the name translates at “Coming from Asia” or “Rising from the East.”
They were Shut Down After a Military Coup in South Korea
In 1979, the South Korean government was overthrown in a military coup and Korea fell under the rule of a military dictator. As a result, all major industrial manufacturers were forced to repurpose themselves for military production – including Kia. The company had to entirely shut down the production of passenger cars in favor of light trucks.
Ford Helped Kia to Get Back into Car Production
Following the coup and its military effort contribution, Kia was looking for opportunities to get back into passenger cars. Unfortunately, the company didn’t have the resources or the technological base to do it on their own. Then came Ford and the two companies struck a deal where Kia would manufacture some of Ford’s models under a license for the South Korean market. The Kia Pride hatchback which was also the first Kia model to be introduced in Pakistan during the 90s was originally a Ford Festiva.
Kia has the Third Lowest Rate of Recalls
Kia is famous today for the reliability factor, and this fame is not unsubstantiated. According to a study, conducted by iSeeCars, Kia has the third-lowest recall rate after Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Moreover, the high pricing of the two German manufacturers effectively makes Kia the most reliable mass-market car brand.
So Many Awards in Such a Short Time
The low recall rate is not the only thing that underlines Kia’s outstanding reputation for reliability. In recent years, the South Korean manufacturer has also been making headlines for the large number of awards it has won. Kia vehicles consistently win the “best quality” awards from J.D. Power.
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More recently, their Telluride SUV won the “Triple Crown” of automotive awards – the first SUV ever to do so. Triple Crown means winning three coveted awards– the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year from North American Car of the Year (NACTOY), MotorTrend SUV of the Year, and a Car and Driver 10 Best Award.
Kia has already made 3 consecutive iF Design hat tricks and since 2010 has been awarded a total of 18 iF Awards for its vehicle designs. In addition to this, the company has won several other automotive design & vehicle satisfaction awards from around the world.
Kia Designs Headed by Peter Schreyer
The reason why you see such stunning vehicle designs coming out from Kia lately is this man- Peter Schreyer. He is a German automobile designer widely famous for designing the VW Beetle & Audi TT. In 2006 the Audi TT was regarded as “one of the most influential automotive designs in recent time“. Schreyer joined Kia in 2006 and remains associated with the company.
Kia has a Different Logo in South Korea
While we are well familiar with Kia’s oval logo, in their native South Korean market they use a stylized “K” logo which even inspired an aftermarket replacement badge in other countries. One of their most recent models the Stinger also comes with an “E” badge in South Korea. Nobody knows why, but it does look cool!
Owned by Hyundai
Many believe Hyundai and Kia are rivals, and while both might still compete in a friendly way, they are actually the same company. Kia has been a subsidiary of Hyundai since 1998, and together they are the 5th largest car manufacturing group in the world.
Kia’s Third Entry in Pakistan
Kia partnered with Lucky group marked their comeback in Pakistan with the launch of Grand Carnival luxury MPV in 2018. This is the third time Kia has made an entry, before that they stepped in our market on two different occasions having teamed up with two different groups.
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Naya Daur Motors (under the Tawwakal group) was the first to introduce Kia vehicles (Pride hatchback and Ceres pickup) in 1994/95. However according to court filings, the company took over Rs 800 million as booking from 16,000 people and delivered only a few hundred vehicles before going bankrupt. The collected money was allegedly transferred outside Pakistan for the company’s other businesses, which casted an utterly bad impression on Kia brand.
In December 1998, Dewan Farooque Motors Limited (DFML) made agreements with Hyundai and Kia to assemble and sell their vehicles in Pakistan. In addition to Hyundai Santro hatchback and Hyundai Shehzore 1-ton pickup, DFML introduced the Kia Classic (Pride-B) subcompact and Kia Spectra sedan in Pakistan. However in 2004 Dewan group started to post losses cascading into problems until things kept turning from bad to worst. By 2008 Dewan was eventually declared the defaulters of over Rs 40 billion, which resulted in the closure of Kia’s second chapter in Pakistan.
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A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com