Kia was founded in December 1944 as Kyungsung Precision Industry, a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts, eventually producing Korea’s first domestic bicycle, the Samchully, in 1951. In 1952, Kyungsung Precision Industry changed its name to Kia Industries, and later built Honda-licensed small motorcycles (starting in 1957), Mazda-licensed trucks (1962) and cars (1974). The company opened its first integrated automotive assembly plant in 1973, the Sohari Plant. Kia built the small Brisa range of cars until 1981, when production came to an end after the new military dictator Chun Doo-hwan enforced industry consolidation. This forced Kia to give up passenger cars and focus entirely on light trucks.
Prior to the forced 1981 shutdown, Kia rounded out its passenger car lineup with two other foreign models assembled under license: the Fiat 132 and the Peugeot 604. 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. 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.
Kia Corporation, commonly known as Kia ( Korean: 기아; Hanja: 起亞; RR: Gia ; MR: Kia , IPA: ), formerly known as Kia Motors Corporation, and stylised as ΚΙΛ, is a South Korean multinational automotive manufacturer headquartered in Seoul. It is South Korea’s second-largest automobile manufacturer after parent company Hyundai Motor Company, with sales of over 2.8 million vehicles in 2019.