Kia’s R&D footprint spans
the globe. These include Detroit, Los Angeles (USA), Russelsheim (Germany),
Namyang, Mabuk (Eco Technology Research Institute) (South Korea) and Chiba
(Japan). Kia’s domestic production network in South Korea is spread out in Sohari (Plant Capacity 320,000
units) where models like the Rio, Grand Carnival (Sedona) and Quoris (K900) are
made. At the Hwasung plant (capacity
540,000 units), models like the Cerato (Forte), Optima, Niro, Sorento, Borrego
(Mohave) and Cadenza are made. At the Gwangju plant (capacity 490,000 units)
models like the Soul, Sportage, Carens (Rondo), K-series Trucks and Buses &
Military Vehicles are manufactured. At the Seosan plant (capacity 250,000), the
Picanto and Ray are made. The total domestic capacity is 1,600,000. Most of the
plants are a 50:50 joint venture with Donghee Automotive
Kia Motors has an additional overseas
production capacity of 1,960,000, putting the total global production of Kia at
3,560,000. Kia’s overseas plants include one in US (Georgia) 340,000 units, Mexico
400,000 units, Slovakia 330,000 units, China two plants of 140,000 units and
300,000 units (total 450,000 units).
Despite fierce global
competition and various challenges facing the industry, Kia Motors has been one
of the world’s fastest growing automakers. In 2015 Kia global sales (shipment
basis) was 3,050,908 units. In 2016 the company is expecting sales of 3,120,000
A brief history
of Kia Motors
It was in 1944 that Kia began
operations as Kyungsung Precision Industry, a company that manufactured bicycle
parts by hand. In 1951 the company entered into mass production of Korea’s
first bicycle. In 1961 the company diversified into mass production of Korea’s
first motorcycle and a year later in 1962 it made the K-360: Korea’s first
domestically produced truck. In 1973, the company set up the Sohari Plant, Korea’s
first fully integrated production line and it was only in 1974 that the company
entered into mass production of Korea’s first passenger car – Brisa. In 1986,
the Pride (Ford Festiva) becomes Kia’s first mass marketed overseas model.
Later in 1998, the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group was established. It is known
today as the Hyundai Motor Group.
In 2003, Kia launched the 1st generation Sorento
which radically transformed perceptions of the Kia brand. A few years later in 2011,
the New Picanto and New Rio were launched. The next few years saw a steady
launch of new cars like the Quoris, new Cerato, new cce'd, new Carens, new Soul,
new Sorento, new carnival, new Soul EV, new Sportage and the new Optima.
Between 2009 and 2015, the company won 55 major Design Awards under the
leadership of Peter Schreyer, who heads the design team at Hyundai and Kia. He
is an automobile design engineer from Germany who has radically transformed the
looks of the Kia and Hyundai cars in the last several years.
The Hyundai Motor Group has announced
setting up a Global Business Center which would essentially be a Global control
tower of the Hyundai Motor Group and the future headquarters of around 30
automotive-related Group affiliates. It would be located at the Samsung Station
in Gangnam (Southern Seoul), which is an upmarket locality in the city. While
work has begun for this tower, it is expected to be completed by 2021.