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The Rise of the Kia

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Twenty years ago, there were a certain number of car manufacturers that were popular and some were virtually unheard of. Back then, some of our most popular manufacturers were nothing more than a good idea for a different option. Some were just beginning to get their name out there, while some had already cemented a solid reputation for delivering quality cars. By the mid-nineties, a new carmaker quietly stepped onto the scene; and now twenty years later we’re witnessing their rise to stardom.

The first emergence of Kia was in 1994 when the first dealerships began to pop up and deliver the Sephia, a four door compact that was offered at a bargain price in comparison with other manufacturers. They quickly followed the Sephia with production of the Sportage, a drastically different alternative to larger and more expensive sports utility vehicles. Kia’s price point came in dramatically lower than almost every other car on the market.

Kia had humble beginnings in South Korea where they marketed, produced, and sold bicycles first. They followed with motorcycles and then increased their production to a couple of cars, but showed very meager sales in comparison with American sales numbers. In 1986, they partnered with Ford to produce the Kia Pride and the Kia Avella, which were based on Mazda vehicles. However, in 1992, Kia Motors America was created and the first cars hit production in select states in the United States.

The first four dealerships popped up in Oregon in 1994. By 1995, Kia had established more than thirty dealerships across the country and sold an impressive 24K cars. In 1997, due to financial constraints in Asia, Kia was forced to file for bankruptcy, until Hyundai acquired 51% of the shares in 1998. They have since reduced the amount of shares and Kia has increased their own foothold in American with the establishment of Kia Motors America.

Through the nineties and the better part of the first decade, Kia was quiet in the background. They were steadily selling budget friendly, reliable vehicles backed by a fantastic warranty. Then in 2008, Kia exploded with the production of the Kia Soul. With a cheeky commercial featuring driving hamsters and a fantastic beat, the Soul quickly emerged as a cute and quirky car that catered to a whole new demographic for the car manufacturer.

What used to be a quiet and unassuming company with good sales number was now the driving hamster company, and that made them a funky and young adult oriented company. Kia quickly learned that a fun commercial had a tremendous impact on their popularity, and they’ve continued to follow that success with many more successful commercials. In the 2015 Super Bowl, Kia showcased a commercial that featured none other than former James Bond himself, Pierce Brosnan. The commercial was loaded with action and fun.

Things have been getting better and better for Kia in recent years as well. They been the recipients of some prestigious awards, and are quickly winning the popularity contest with fresh new models and reliable cars. Kelley Blue Book awarded Kia the Best Value Brand Vehicle Award for 2014, and they also picked up an award for being the Best Global Green Brand for 2014. IIHS has awarded Kia with many different top safety picks, and J.D. Power called one of their cars one of the highest ranked large cars in initial quality. From their latest lineup and the popularity of the Kia Optima, it seems as though Kia is just getting started.

2015 is also starting out in the right direction for Kia, with two wins from J.D.Power and associates for the Soul and the Sorento. The Soul has claimed 2015’s prize for Highest Ranked Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle in Initial Quality while the Sorento took the Highest Ranked Midsized SUV. While awards don’t make a car brand successful, there is a great deal of prestige associated with these awards. There are a great deal of rigorous standards a car must meet in order to receive these rewards, and Kia is certainly knocking it out of the park.

Kia’s streamlined and simple website, features a section that is called ‘101 Reasons to Own a Kia’. From the looks of the list, Kia owners have more than a hundred and one reasons to be happy with their purchases. From the top of the line options for their new car, exciting features, and one of the best infotainment systems on the market, Kia owners may have a million and one reasons to be happy.

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