Kia Motors is the smaller of the two brands within Hyundai Motor Group, now Asia's second largest auto manufacturer after Toyota and currently the global #5. Hyundai and Kia operate independently of one another but are both controlled and run by the Chung family, descendants of Hyundai's original founder. Kia is positioned as Hyundai's "vibrant and distinctive" sibling, a maker of quality vehicles with "the power to surprise". Originally an entirely separate company, it has been controlled by Hyundai since 1998, through what is now a 34% shareholding. Most of the remaining shares are publicly traded. Founded in 1944, it was originally a manufacturer of bicycles, and later motorcycles. In 1962, the company launched its first automobile, the Kia three-wheel light cargo truck, followed by a passenger car, the Brisa, in 1974. By the end of the decade it had become the local assembly plant for Peugeot and Fiat, and Ford became a shareholder in the 1980s but later pulled out as a result of Korea's growing economic problems. By the late 1990s, Kia was close to collapse, and it was rescued by Hyundai and two of Korea's leading banks. In the space of the next two decades, the brand underwent an astonishing transformation in quality and style. It is still the smaller of the parent group's two brands. Total registrations were almost 2.9m in 2018, but have slipped back since then. The figure for 2020 was just under 2.7m. However in several important markets it sits close behind its larger sibling. It is the second largest brand (behind Hyundai) in the South Korean market at 552k units, equivalent to 29% share, while US registrations hit a new high of 586k. China is the brand's #3 market but sales have been in steep decline since 2018, falling to 249k in 2020. Top-selling model worldwide is the Sportage SUV at 387k registrations in 2020, followed by the Rio compact sedan at 230k, and Sorrento full-size SUV at 213k. However, the group's fastest growing model is the new Seltos mid-size SUV, sales of which more than doubled in 2020 to 190k. Revenues were approx $50.2bn (KWon 59.2 tn) with net profit of $1.3bn. Song Ho-sung is CEO, with Chung Eui-sun, grandson of the Hyundai Group's original founder, as executive chairman.
Capsule checked 14th June 2021
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Historical profile information for Hyundai Group
Adbrands Social Media 2nd Jul 2019: "Niro Electrified". I just had the most terrible nightmare. I dreamed agency Innocean got my one-time hero Robert De Niro to dress up as a geriatric skinhead in an ad campaign for Kia Motors, simply because he has the same name as one of the car makers' smaller runabout models. Quick, someone pinch me, I need to wake up! Wait, what?!? What do you mean it wasn't a dream?
Adbrands Social Media 20th May 2019: "Magical Inspirations". So what do ballerinas, footballers, Neil Armstrong, Felix the Cat, a tiger and a meerkat have in common? Nothing whatsoever, but they're all in this extraordinary campaign for Kia Motors in India from local creative consultancy Sideways and house agency Innocean. It arguably makes no sense whatsoever, but is brilliantly imaginative as well as completely hypnotic to watch. The ad is only just penetrating Western markets for the first time, but it's racked up over 230m views on YouTube since it first launched two months ago. If it wasn't for that terrible voiceover we could watch it forever.
Adbrands Social Media 22nd Jan 2019: "Get Mean". Even as I write this sentence, Rafael Nadal is slowly dismantling Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-final of the Australian Open. (Here's hoping a surprise turnaround doesn't force me to rewrite that sentence in an hour or two). The thing with Nadal is that, more perhaps than most of his peers, he seems like a fun guy as well as an awesome athlete. Somehow we can't imagine Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic messing about like this in Innocean's cute spot for Kia Motors, also a major sponsor of both the Australian Open and Nadal personally. Admittedly, he's not prepared to go quite as far as most of the other vehicle ventriloquists here, every one of them clearly the biggest show-off in any given room, but he gives it a good go.
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