Kia Motors Corporation headquartered in Seoul, is South Korea’s second-largest automobile manufacturer, following the Hyundai Motor Company, with sales of over 2.7 million vehicles in 2012 and almost 2.75 million vehicles in 2013. As of December 2013, Starting in 1986 (when only 26 cars were manufactured, followed by over 95,000 the next year), Kia rejoined the automobile industry in partnership with Ford. Kia produced several Mazda-derived vehicles for both domestic sales in South Korea and for export into other countries. These models included the Kia Pride, based on the Mazda 121, and the Avella, which were sold in North America and Australasia as the Ford Festiva and Ford Aspire.
In 1992, Kia Motors America was incorporated in the United States. The first Kia-branded vehicles in the United States were sold from four dealerships in Portland, Oregon in February 1994. Since then, Kia methodically expanded one region at a time. Dealers in 1994 sold the Sephia; and a few years later, the United States segment expanded their line with the addition of the Sportage. Over one hundred Kia dealerships existed across thirty states by 1995, selling a record 24,740 automobiles.
However, during the Asian financial crisis, Kia declared bankruptcy in 1997; and in 1998, Hyundai Motor Company acquired 51% of the company, outbidding Ford Motor Company which had owned an interest in Kia Motors since 1986. After subsequent divestments, Hyundai Motor Company owns less than 50% of the company, but remains Kia’s largest stakeholder.
Since 2005, Kia has focused on the European market and has identified design as its «core future growth engine»—leading to the hiring of Peter Schreyer in 2006 as Chief Design Officer and his subsequent creation of a new corporate grille known as the ‘Tiger Nose’.
In 2016, Kia Motors model reliability was ranked first in the United States by J.D. Power and Associates, becoming the first non-luxury automaker since 1989 to top that list.