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The Story Of Kia Motors, one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers, has a history that’s as unlikely as it is inspiring. From its humble beginnings as a small manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts to its current status as a global automotive powerhouse, Kia’s story is a testament to the power of innovation, perseverance, and a healthy dose of mischief.

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The Great Escape (1940s)

Kia’s founder, Kim Cheol-ho, was a restless teenager who dreamed of making a name for himself. Born in 1915 in Korea, Kim was the youngest of five siblings and was known for his curiosity, entrepreneurial spirit, and penchant for getting into trouble. In fact, Kim ran away from home not once, not twice, but four times! (We’re starting to think his parents should have just installed a revolving door).

  • Kim Cheol-ho (Founder)
  • Shin Chung-kook (Co-Founder)

The Birth of Kia (1944)

Fast forward to 1944, Kim Cheol-ho founded Kyungsung Precision Industry, the company that would eventually become Kia Motors. With a small team of employees and a lot of grit, Kim set out to build a business that would change the world and tell the remarkable story of Kia Motors. (Or at least, make a decent car that wouldn’t break down on the highway).

  • Kim Cheol-ho (CEO, 1944-1973)
  • Kim Chul-soo (Chairman, 1973-1998)

Growing Pains (1950s-1960s)

The early years of Kia were marked by growing pains, financial struggles, and more than a few setbacks. Kim’s wife, Choi Jong-soon, was known to have said, “I married a poor man, but I didn’t know I was marrying a man who would make me poor too!” (We’re guessing she was probably joking… or not).

  • Kim Cheol-ho (CEO, 1944-1973)
  • Kim Chul-soo (Chairman, 1973-1998)
  • Chung Eui-sun (Chairman, 1998-2006)

The Brisa Breakthrough (1964)

Kia’s first vehicle, the Brisa, was launched in 1964 and was a licensed version of the Mazda Familia. It was a humble beginning, but the Brisa marked the start of something big. With its sleek design and reliable engine, the Brisa quickly became a favorite among Korean drivers. (We’re guessing it was probably the only car on the market that didn’t require a PhD in mechanics to fix).

  • Kim Cheol-ho (CEO, 1944-1973)
  • Kim Chul-soo (Chairman, 1973-1998)
  • Chung Eui-sun (Chairman, 1998-2006)
  • Hyoung-Keun Lee (Chairman, 2006-2012)

Challenges and Triumphs (1970s-1980s)

The 1970s and 1980s were a period of significant growth and challenges for Kia Motors. The company faced stiff competition from established players in the global automotive market and struggled to establish its brand identity. However, under the leadership of Kim Chul-soo, Kia’s chairman from 1973 to 1998, the company continued to innovate and expand its product line. (We’re pretty sure Kim was like, “We’re not going to let those big guys push us around!”).

  • Kim Chul-soo (Chairman, 1973-1998)
  • Chung Eui-sun (Chairman, 1998-2006)
  • Hyoung-Keun Lee (Chairman, 2006-2012)
  • Peter Schreyer (Chief Design Officer, 2006-2012)

Partnership with Ford (1986)

In 1986, Kia Motors entered into a partnership with Ford Motor Company, which helped the company to access new technologies and markets. This partnership also led to the development of the Kia Pride, a subcompact car that became a huge success in the Korean market. (We’re guessing Ford was like, “Hey, these Kia guys aren’t so bad after all”).

  • Kim Chul-soo (Chairman, 1973-1998)
  • Chung Eui-sun (Chairman, 1998-2006)
  • Hyoung-Keun Lee (Chairman, 2006-2012)
  • Peter Schreyer (Chief Design Officer, 2006-2012)

Global Expansion (1990s-Present)

The 1990s marked a significant turning point for Kia Motors. The company began to expand its global presence, establishing operations in the United States, Europe

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