Kia in Korea

Tim Goes To Kia!

Our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, had the opportunity of being invited by Kia to visit its headquarters in South Korea recently. The carmaker has transformed from a frog into a prince over the last decade, and for a while, we’ve been keen to discover more about it. So, Tim took up Kia’s offer and flew the 11 hours to Seoul. Here’s what he learnt during his five days out in the Far East.

In 1944 Kia Motors Corporation was founded in Korea. It is the Asian country’s oldest producer of vehicles. From modest roots making cycles and motorbikes, the automaker now makes over three million motors annually. It manufactures them from 14 plants spread out in five countries. These cars are serviced and sold through dealers and distributors across 180 countries globally. And worldwide, Kia has more than 50,000 employees and yearly revenues of around US $44 billion.
In Kia’s motherland of South Korea, the company runs three key factories at Sohari, Hwasung and Gwangju, as well as a top-notch research and development centre at Namyang. Kia Motors Corporation’s Eco-Technology Research Institute, close to Seoul, is exploring new-generation hydrogen fuel-cell powertrains. The brand spends approximately six% of its twelve-monthly revenues on research and development and runs research centres in America, Germany and Japan.
 
Kia has numerous industrial bases away from South Korea, with cutting-edge assembly facilities in Slovakia, China, USA and Mexico. It has an international production volume of 3.5 million vehicles annually. Cars are made on assembly lines which can produce an assortment of models at the same time. This means Kia can adjust quickly to changes in purchasing trends.
Furthermore, Kia manufactures cars locally in diverse markets to meet the needs of customers. For instance, there are assembly operations utilising ‘car kits’ (distributed from South Korea) in Iran, Ecuador, Malaysia, Russia, Vietnam and Uruguay.

The design is a fundamental element of Kia’s strategy to become a leading global marque. The last ten years have seen a design transformation at the company. It’s a change which has shaped the way in which customers around the world understand Kia and its range of cars.
 
Kia’s design centres in South Korea, the USA and Germany, enable the business to keep in line with end users’ needs. Led by Peter Schreyer, President and Chief Design Officer of Kia Motors Corporation, the automaker has determined its own strong identity. It has also come up with many new car designs as the model range has developed.
Indeed, Kia has seen a huge growth in the potency of its marque over the years. According to 2016’s ‘100 Best Global Brands’ poll, it is now the 69th most valuable brand name globally. What’s more, Kia is recognised by customers for its lively, distinct and dependable variety of cars.
 
From its earliest days, Kia established a name for itself as Korea’s automotive guru. The firm was founded in 1944, manufactured its first small car in 1974 and made the first Korean-designed vehicle in 1992. In 1993, Kia built its three millionth motor. And in 2016 alone, the firm created and shifted more than three million cars.
 
Currently, Kia Motors is an international name in the automotive sector and is part of the Hyundai Motor Group, the world’s fifth largest car maker. Kia’s motto, ‘The Power to Surprise’, epitomises its pledge to astonish the world by delivering stimulating and inspirational experiences that go further than expectations.
Last year (2016) Kia launched its newest production plant in Pesquería, Mexico, representing a US$1 billion investment by the firm. The facility has a yearly production capability of 300,000 cars per year, taking Kia’s global manufacturing capacity to 3.5 million vehicles.
 
The sophisticated Mexico plant can make one vehicle every 53 seconds and has over 400 robots helping in the body, press, paint shops and assembly line. As 2017 ends, it’s expected that the number of employees at the Pesquería facility will have expanded to 3,000. Additionally, an extra 7,000 jobs are anticipated to be generated by supplier companies.
This goes to show how Kia as a manufacturer has truly flourished across its years; only becoming more technologically-advanced and bigger as each day comes.

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