Kia Motors started out as Kyungsung Precision Industry, a manufacturer founded in December 1944 with the aim to produce steel tubing and bicycles components.
In 1951, the company's work led to the assembly of Korean's first domestic bike, called the Samchully. One year later, Kyungsung Precision Industry changed its name to Kia Industries.
According to the company, "Kia" comes from Sino-Korean characters "ki" (to come out) and "a" (East Asia). Therefore, a grosso modo translation could suggest the "to come out from the East" meaning.
Under the Kia nameplate, the company delivered motorcycles under the Honda license and trucks under Mazda's grant.
Kia's first car factory - the Sohari Plant - opened in 1973 and responsible for the assembly of Kia's Brisa range.
In 1986, Kia came back to the auto industry stage through a partnership with Ford and kicked off production of models like Kia Pride (based on the Mazda 121) and Avella.
Come 1992, Kia reached US shores and later on opened four dealerships in Portland, Oregon, in February 1994. A bankruptcy declaration followed in 1997, but one year later, an agreement with Hyundai Motor Company, who acquired 51% of Kia.
From 2005 onwards, Kia's efforts focused on the European market. The same year spawned the Tiger Nose front grille design, and by 2016, Kia managed to secure the top spot in J.D. Power and Associates' reliability report, a first for a non-premium brand since 1989.