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In 2013, Kia are making vehicles that compete with the best in the business. Not so long ago, however, Kia cars were a little on the cheap and nasty side (i.e. they were cheap but the on-road performance was nasty). Now, Kia Australia cars are refined, solid and well built vehicles that are made with very credible crash safety results.

History reveals that the origins of the South Korean car company hark back to 1944. The Kia name literally means “rising up or coming out”. In 1944, the company began by manufacturing steel tubing and bicycles. In 1951, the company was officially named ‘Kia Industries’ and this was the year that Kia had the joy of producing Korea’s first bicycle.

With a few years of building and producing bicycles under their belts, the obvious next step for the company was to design and make a motorized bicycle. So, in 1957, their first motor scooter, the C-100, was made. This was actually the first motor scooter made in Korea. This same year, the Shihung factory was established.

What came next was again the obvious expansion – into the motorcycle industry. So in 1961, Kia Industries produced their first of many C-180 motorcycles. Soon after, with the aid of some good engineers on board, and staff with good knowledge and skills in the field of mechanical engineering, Kia Industries produced Korea’s first truck, the K-360. The name Kia Industries was changed to Kia Service Co Ltd in 1972, and just one year later, the Sohari plant designed and made Korea’s first internal combustion engine.

Kia has helped other well known car manufacturers build their car s up from scratch, in much the same was as Holden did in its earlier days. In 1974, Kia began manufacturing the Peugeot 604, and was asked for (and accepted) a contract to build Fiat’s 132.

However, the big leap in Kia’s growth were made in the nineties. In 1990, the corporation name was changed to ‘Kia Motors, Inc.’ and, in 1991, Kia Motors Corporation announced their intentions to move into the U.S. marketplace and sell the Sephia compact sedan, followed by a sport-utility vehicle, the Sportage.

With further technical developments made in networking into America, 1995 became a year of festivity for Kia as they enjoyed their first anniversary of sales in the United States. In July 1996, Kia sold their 50,000th car in the United States. The reason behind this success lay in the reliability of Kia’s engines. A very credible result was obtained in a test between a Kia Sephia engine and a Toyota Corolla engine. After 200,000 miles, both engines were stripped down to find see which had the most wear. To Kia’s delight (and the delight of Kia owners everywhere), the Sephia had 81 percent of its engine measurements within factory tolerance, while the Corolla has only 66 percent.

Kia has had great success in various rallies and endurance races. In 1998, the Kia Sportage won the Class 3 championship of the SCORE Desert Championship Series for the second year in a row, and won the Class 3000 championship of the Silver State Series, a four-state series in the Nevada Desert. In 2000, the Sportage won its class in the Baja 1000, clinching the Class 3 championship in the SCORE Desert Series. This success was topped a few years ago with the completion of the Global Circuit in the Kia Sorento, which saw a road standard car being driven around the world (including navigating the trackless wastes of Siberia and Mongolia) – and the only problem that occurred throughout this epic voyage was two punctures.

Kia has had a presence in Australia for about a decade now, and Kia Australia has made its presence felt in the popular media by sponsoring the prestigious Australian Open tournament. With 125 dealers throughout Australia in all main centres from Perth to Queensland, and Darwin to Hobart, Kia cars are within the reach of every driver who wants one.

Kia Australia’s latest models are very safe and well-built machines. High levels of praise are spoken out around the world for Kia’new and refined Sorento, Sportage and Rio models. This is a car-maker on the move. Watch this space.

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