Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A white 2010 Kia Soul is in a warehouse. The older models can be found at a used Kia dealership.

The History of Kia

Kia Motors, one of South Korea’s most prominent automotive manufacturers, has dealerships around the world. In December of 1944, Kia was founded with the name Kyungsung Precision Industry. At the time, they focused on bicycle parts, leading to the creation of Samchully, the first domestic bicycle in Korea in 1951. That next year is when Kyusung Precision Industry changed its name to Kia Industries, which formed the building blocks for you local Kia dealership and the company that we know today.

Kia began to make small motorcycles by 1957 under a Honda license, trucks in 1962 under Mazda, and cars in 1974 also under Mazda. While not quite a Kia dealership, an automotive assembly plant was opened in 1973 with the name Sohari Plant. Kia continues to build small cars until 1981 when industry consolidation was enforced by former South Korean President Chun Doo-Hwan. This shifted their focus over to trucks until 1986, when Kia partnered with Ford.


At this point, several vehicles including the Kia Pride and the Avella were made by Kia under Mazda to be sold domestically as well as in North America and Australasia under the names Ford Festiva and Ford Aspire. In 1992, the first Kia dealership was established in the United States, which took the name Kia Motors America. In February of 1994, four Kia dealerships in Portland, Oregon sold the first branded Kia vehicles; the Sephia and the Sportage.

What Kia Motors did right, was not getting their company in over their head. They took the slow but steady route when expanding by only one region at a time. In 1995, Kia began breaking records selling 24,740 vehicles at over 100 Kia dealership locations in 30 different states.

Hyundai’s involvement and the European Market

In 1997, Kia had to declare bankruptcy when the Asian Financial Crisis took over. That next year, Kia made an agreement with Hyundai Motor Company when they lost the bidding war with Ford. Hyundai ended up gaining more than half of the ownership of Kia, which after selling off parts of the business totaled out to around a third. Though it seems like a lot, Kia still has control over 22 of the company’s subsidiaries.

In 2005, they decided to put the majority of their focus on Kia dealerships in the European automotive market. The next year, 2006, Kia brought Peter Schreyer on board as the Chief Design Officer which led to a major turning point for Kia. He created Tiger Noise, which was a new corporate grille under the “core future growth engine,” design. Eventually, Kia Dealerships became not only well established but one of the most popular automotive brands available in Britain and gained control over more than 2% of the market for new cars.

Kia Motors in America break records- Again!

Shortly after Peter Schreyer was hired, the US Kia Motors manufacturer, located in West Point, Georgia, broke ground with an investment of 1 billion dollars. Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia took the slow and steady approach yet again and held off opening until the company hit 15 years of consistently increasing market share in the United States.

Another major milestone for Kia was when Pope Francis made the decision to drive the Kia Soul while on a trip to South Korea. The Kia Soul gained massive amounts of international attention, and Kia dealerships began to flood with consumers. The Pop also used the Kia Carnival and the Hyundai Santa Fe; however, the Soul received the most coverage out of the vehicles because it was apparent during the welcoming ceremony as he arrived at the Seoul Airport.

Speaking of the Kia Soul

You can’t hear about the Kia Soul without getting any of its commercials stuck in your head, particularly, “This or That.” The song, “The Choice is Yours,” by the Black Sheep is sung by hamsters, driving around in various vehicles through the streets of Hamsterdam. The full commercial originally aired in 2010.

Be warned that the commercial will have you singing, “you can get with this, or you can get with that,” all day long without fail, so show your friends, I bet they will be thrilled.

The Kia Soul was marketed well and in countless places. Not only television and radio commercials, but Kia was a big sponsor for the Vans Warped Tour for many years. The Warped Tour Kia Soul was an impressive and eye-catching vehicle with its custom paint job and massive speakers put in place of the windows. On top of the Soul was a large monitor which allowed for viewing of the festival. Better yet was a slide-out barbeque, to fill up on food making for the perfect tailgating experience. It was made more for entertainment purposes rather than performance, but the Warped Tour Soul could reach a top speed of 124 miles per hour reaching 60 mph at around 10 seconds. Warped even decided to name one of the touring stages after the Soul.

Other Clever Kia Advertising

That wasn’t the only clever advertising campaign that Kia ingrained into our heads. One major player in classic Kia commercials featured a man on the phone attempting to impress his wife while negotiating with the Kia dealership. If you really want to take a trip down memory lane, watch the commercial, “How You Like Me Now?” which aired during Superbowl XLIV. It featured a group of toys adventuring in the Kia Sorrento. Some of the toys included Yo Gabba Gabba characters, the Sock Monkey, and a few other common toys amongst younger children.

The Kia Sorrento had another commercial, “The Perfect Getaway,” air during Super Bowl XLIX. It was about a movie pitch featuring Pierce Brosnan driving the Sorrento around through action-packed adventure. There were a few more Kia Superbowl commercials to air, such as “Dream Dust Overkill,” in 2012, “Where Babies Come from,” in 2013, but there is no denying that all of their commercials were some of the best.

Super Bowl commercials are not the only way that Kia dealerships gain more business, but charity events as well. The Great Unknown Scholarship was created to help students prepare for a professional career, and all of the information surrounding that can be found at The Great Unknowns.

Progress is All We Can Really Ask For

Kia hasn’t always been all the rage everywhere in the world. For a long time, Kia was the target of hate in the automotive industry, specifically in America. Kia Dealerships had made a name for themselves as the typical new mom SUV brand, but that is slowly changing as Kia progressed. My mom loves her Kia Sportage, even with its radio issues she refuses to fix. Kia still has a long way to go, but they are without a doubt keeping up with their competition, and we can expect to see plenty more entertaining marketing campaigns from Kia.