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Kia was founded in 1944 in South Korea as "Kyongseong Precision Industry" and at first produced bicycles under the name Kia. Derived from the Chinese character "ki" and compounded with the letter "a", which stands for Asia, the company has given itself with the name an "Asia accent" and a vigorous motto.
The Kia Sportage made a foray into the European market. The SUV Sportage has been available in Germany since 1994 and is still being produced today. Through the success of the Pride and Sportage, Kia was able to expand and settle permanently in the USA and in Germany. The company opened its headquarters for instance in Bremen in 1997.
At the end of the 1990s, the financial crisis in Asia almost caused the bankruptcy of the automobile manufacturer. However, Kia was included in the Hyundai Group, one of South Korea's largest business conglomerates. As early as 1999 the Van Carnival was presented in Austria - a major market for the company. In Germany, the seven-seater was one of the largest cars on the market. Together with Hyundai, it has been possible for Kia to take a firm place in the world's top ten of car manufacturers since 2004.
With the production of light commercial vehicles and the Bongo in 1980, Kia gained significance on the world market. The compact van and truck was marketed as a first-generation model in Europe under the name Besta. It was based on the Mazda Bongo II. The successive generations of the Bongo produced to this day are partly heavier versions or trucks of the K series.
A new reorientation towards passenger cars was achieved by another license from Mazda in 1983. The Kia Pride was developed jointly with Ford and Mazda, and from 1987 onwards it became the bestseller of the brand. From 1993 on the small car was also offered in Germany.
Kia now distributes models in all classes. The Picanto mini-car, known as the Korea Morning, has been an insider's tip in Germany since 2004 regarding the price-performance ratio.
Apart from the Sportage, Kia also offers the Sorento SUV, which has been present on the German market since 2002. The compact Van Carens has existed since 1999 and is now in the fourth generation.
The small car Rio is a direct competitor of the VW Polo and Opel Corsa and is available in Europe as a three- and five-door car. The compact class Kia cee’d is also for sale since 2006. The medium-class model Kia Optima, which was designed in the same way as the Hyundai Sonata, has been directly superordinated since 2000.
In principle, Kia targets the broad public, but models of the upper middle class are also put on the market. However, the Opirus and the Optima are not sold very often in Germany. The Cadenza and K9 of this class are not offered in Europe so far.
Since 2010, the company has been active in car racing in the USA. Since then, Kia Racing has participated in more than 300 races as “Kinetic Motorsports” and has won seven championship titles - the first of which was the Pirelli World Championship 2014.