Kia sounds surprisingly playful for a car manufacturer's name and as the brand's tag line reads, they really are all about the power to surprise. In fact, the Korean car builder has done so from its very inception in 1944 when it began as a steel tubing and bicycle parts producer. Six years later, Kia would reveal Korea's first bike.
Once the first step was made, Kia rushed through the process of developing light means of transport, such as scooters and fast forwarded through motorcycle building upon the point of reaching the necessary resources and experience to start building cars. The whole conversion process took Kia about two and a half decades to complete.
Bigger, richer and propelled by the enthrallment of having their own car brand, Kia poured a considerable amount of cash into a plant to accommodate its assembly lines. By 1973, the new facility at Sohari saw completion, becoming Korea's first of its kind. Fully integrated and equipped with the latest cutting, bolting and welding machinery, the plant ulteriorly became the womb in which Kore's first internal-combustion gasoline engine would develop. The first Kia built car was unveiled one year later, a medium passenger car named Brisa.
Kia's sounding debut and modern technology caught the eye of different foreign producers (e.g. Peugeot and Fiat) with whom it partnered to house production of some of their models such as Peugeot's 604 and Fiat's 132.
By the 80's Kia had expanded to almost the size of its main competitor, Hyundai who was still the no. 1 Korean producer. Some of Kia's newer models at the time were rebadged and marketed abroad such as the Pride which sold overseas as the Ford Festiva. Only a few years later, Ford would manifest interest in the Avella, a subcompact car available in a 5-door hatchback version and a 4-door sedan powered by either a 1.3 or a 1.5 liter engine. The Avella was rebadged as the Ford Aspire on the North American market.
The Korean manufacturer had not yet reached US shores on its own but it was only a few strokes away. In 1992, the brand was incorporated into the US and timidly started business through a tiny four-dealership network that sold its first vehicles in 1994. Ever since, Kia has been methodically expanding, reaching every state except North Dakota.