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Founded 1944 as a bicycle parts’ company, Kia began manufacturing cars 30 years later, initially with Mazda-derived models.

By the 1990s, Kia was developing its own models, with some connection to Ford, which had acquired an interest in 1986. One notable exception was a Lotus Élan-derived sports car, which Kia built under licence briefly in 1996–8. In 1997, Kia declared bankruptcy. In 1998, Hyundai acquired a controlling interest, though its share has decreased since then.

While Kias are based on Hyundai platforms today, they have a very different design language, thanks to its design chief, Peter Schreyer, who joined the firm in 2006. More individual Kia models have seen to the company’s rise, and by 2010, its image as a poor relation to Hyundai had begun to disappear.


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