What Does Kia Stand For?

Last Updated on May 1, 2022 by MABER SAL

Kia is a word that originates from Sino Korean characters that roughly translate to rising stars from the east. These characters are 起, originated and 亞, meaning Asia (east). Kia Motors is a brand that started selling some cars like Sportage and Sephia sedans back in 1994 in the U.S.

Kia Motor Corporation started in 1944 May. It is the oldest vehicle manufacturer in Korea and the second largest after Hyundai Corporation. In 2020 it was awarded car of the year. Kia started from humble beginnings of making bicycles and motorcycles, and it continues to grow. In 1992, Kia Corporation opened an American branch, Kia Motors America. Brands that Kia manufacture includes minivans, crossovers, SUVs, and cars, and all these models have a 10-year warranty or 100,000 miles ( whichever comes first) for various components.

History of Kia

History of Kia

Kia Motors Corporation is the second-largest auto manufacturer in South Korea, with its headquarters based in Seoul, which is the capital city. It was founded in December 1944, and by then, it was known as Kyungsung Precision Industry. It was formed mainly to manufacture steel tubing and parts for the bicycle. This company produced the first indigenous bicycle. In 1952, it changed its name to Kia. Do you know what Kia stands for? It stands for K.I., or “to arise from”, and A is for Asia. Therefore, Kia means “to arise from Asia”.

Motorcycles and Trucks

The company started to produce Honda-licensed small-sized motorcycles in 1957; in 1962, it made trucks licensed by Mazda and cars in 1974. It opened the Sohari plant in 1973, the first integrated automotive assembly. After four years, the company started to manufacture small-sized Brisa cars before it stopped its manufacturing activities due to the dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan, who enforced industry consolidation. Kia diverted their focus from manufacturing passenger cars to making small trucks. At about this time, it also started to manufacture cars licensed to fiat and Peugeot, where almost 100,000 of these cars were made in 1982. The company also formed a partnership with ford motor company that derivate Mazda cars and manufactured vehicles for export to other countries and Domestic sales in South Korea. Their models included Kia pride (a derivative of Mazda) and Avella. In 1992, the company entered America as Kia Motors America, where it sold its vehicles in the country. Since then, the company has spread its roots to 30 states in America with more than 100 dealers.


Unfortunately, the Kia Company went bankrupt in 1997, which made it agree to join hands with Hyundai Motor Company a year later. Today as we speak, Hyundai owns 33 per cent of the company.

European Markets

Kia Motors turned its focus to the European market from 2005 onwards, and in 2006, it employed Peter Schreyer to be the chief designer. In 2014, Pope Francis was in South Korea for a five-day tour, and he rode in a Kia vehicle known as the Kia soul. The company was top-ranked in the U.S. model for dependability in 2016; since 1989, it has been the first non-luxury carmaker to earn this accolade. 

The best-selling car

Despite the adverse effects of the covid 19 pandemic that struck the economy and issues related to the supply chain, Kia America sold 701,414 vehicles, of which 115,929 were Forte sedans, which made it to be the top-selling Kia car in 2021 compared to 84,997 that was sold in 2020. What made this car have such high sales? It has some unique features that prompted it to be bought. These features include; 

  1. Affordable price
  2. Standard features list
  3. Value proposition
  4. A 201-HP turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  5. 147-HP four-pot motor

The above figures show that Forte registered an increase of 36 per cent, based on a year-to-year comparison. On a month-to-month comparison basis, we see that in December 2021, Kia sold 8,639 Forte, compared to 7,119 Forte sold in December 2020, meaning that we had an increment of 21 per cent of the sales. Thus, despite being a less engaging and not a fun-to-drive vehicle, Forte still grabs good sales.

Who owns Kia?

There have been several trades and disinvestments involved with the Kia motor corporation. The first happened during the 1997 financial crisis in Asia. Kia decided to trade with Hyundai Motors, and Hyundai owned 51% of Kia in 1998. Ford owned a significant percentage of Kia, but Hyundai outbid it, and Kia became a Korean company wholly. Today, in 2015, Hundred owned 33.88% of Kia Motors as the largest stakeholder. Kia also, however, owns stakes in 22 of Hyundai’s companies. The actual owner of Kia Motor Corporation is Hyundai Motors. 

Kia in the US

Kia was first established in the U.S. in Irvine, California, and this remains the U.S. headquarters to date. The official date was October 21, 1992. The first Kia brands to be introduced to the U.S. market were Kia Sportage and Kia Sephia, introduced in 1993. These cars came from four dealerships in Portland, Oregon, and later spread throughout the country.

 The growth continued, and in 2018 Kia Stinger was introduced and Kia Telluride in 2019. The 2018 Stinger is a recognized Sedan that has won J.D. Power and Business Insider awards. Kia telluride was not left behind in the award-winning as it received several awards and recognition. Kia Stinger and Kia Telluride both continue to gain traction in the U.S. 

In the U.S. market, there are five crossovers and SUVs currently sold. They include Sportage, telluride, soul, Niro, and Sorento. Even though the American market has several Kias, only two are manufactured here: Optima and Sorento. 

Is Kia a reliable brand?

Is Kia a reliable brand

Kia is a reliable vehicle. If you want to know the reliability or durability, the warranty tells you a lot. Kia vehicles are backed by a 10- year warranty, meaning that even the manufacturers trust their products. They are sure the product will serve for several years before they start acting up or malfunctioning. In 2013, Kia marked the 18th year in a down of improved market share in the United States. This can only be possible if the vehicles are reliable. Also, the main reason for being reliable is that in 2015, J.D.Power recognized Kia as the brand with the highest initial quality. If these reasons do not convince you that Kia is reliable, you won’t find any other brand. You can be confident in owning a Kia, knowing that it will not let you down when you need it the most.

Take away

If you love cars and know their history, you have loved this article as it is all about Kia, the rising star from the east. Kia continues to prove its name with continuous growth, success, awards, and recognition. You can never go wrong with a Kia. Having looked at the history of Kia in the U.S. and its reliability, we are confident that you know a lot more than when you were starting to read the article. We hope that it was helpful. 

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