Twenty-five years ago, automobiles with the Kia nameplate began appearing on American streets. Kia-manufactured vehicles had actually made landfall prior to that, but up until 1994, they bore the insignia of other brands.
Like a lot of great companies, Kia’s beginnings were simple. The company first made bicycle parts, and then started producing bicycles in South Korea in the 1950s. The first Kia car was made in 1974, put together a year after Kia built their first assembly plant.
Twenty years later, four dealerships located in Portland, Oregon sold the first Kia vehicles in the US. Beginning in 1995, Kia began cornering more and more of the US automotive market share. The company continued to grow in the US, culminating in the opening of a Kia manufacturing facility on US soil in 2010.
Four years prior to that, Kia first broke ground on the billion dollar manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia. If their commitment to being a strong presence in the States hadn’t been taken seriously before, it was undeniable at that point. Four years later, the plant went online, employing 3,000, with a capacity to make 300,000 vehicles annually. Currently, the Kia Sorento and Kia Optima are manufactured there.
What has allowed Kia to grow so strongly and so steadily is their adherence to a particular business philosophy. It is called the Kia Way, and it is all about creating an open and trusting environment for their team members.
“The Power To Surprise” is the official slogan of Kia Motors Corporation. It’s only a few words, but they succinctly and perfectly embody the spirit of Kia as a forward-thinking auto manufacturer that thinks outside the box.