Both Kia and Hyundai are Korean car manufacturers that produce affordable and fuel-efficient cars for the global market. In fact, both brands share similar origins as they are both subsidiaries of larger conglomerates called ‘big car’ companies. However, their individual brand identities and strategic approaches to the market are markedly different. However, it is fair to ask whether Kia and Hyundai are the same company or not. Let’s find out.
Are Kia And Hyundai The Same Company?
Kia and Hyundai are not the same company, but they do have similar histories. They were both founded in the late 1960s and grew rapidly into the 1990s. In 1994, Hyundai bought Kia’s parent company and began to use Kia as its low-cost option for global sales.
Kia: A Short History Of Hyundai’s Little Brother
- Hyundai Motor Company was founded in 1967.
- In 1974, Hyundai began manufacturing and selling Kia-branded cars, which were largely based on the same technology as Hyundai.
- By the 1980s, Kia had become a full-fledged company with its own dedicated factories and design center.
- In 1994, Hyundai bought a controlling interest in Kia and began to use it as its low-cost brand for global sales.
- In 1998, Kia introduced its first standalone model, the Sephia sedan (the name is Korean for “seventy-one”). It was marketed as an entry-level model that offered more luxury than other entry-level sedans at the time (i.e., it was more affordable than competing models like the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic). The Sephia was a success and helped establish Kia as a legitimate competitor to other automakers on the global market. Today there are over 50 Kia models available in the United States.
- In 2001, Kia introduced its first standalone SUV, the Sportage (the name is Korean for “tiger cub”). This proved to be a popular model and has been in continuous production since then.
- In 2004, Kia released its first standalone sedan, the Spectra (the name is Korean for “star”). This was a lower-cost alternative to the sedans of other automakers at the time (i.e., it was more affordable than competing models like the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord). The Spectra was a success and helped establish Kia as a legitimate competitor to other automakers on the global market. Today there are over 20 Kia models available in the United States.
- In 2014, Hyundai released its first standalone SUV, the Tucson (the name is Korean for “first son”). This proved to be a popular model and has been proved to be a popular model and has been in continuous production since then.
- In 2015, Kia began offering the Niro (the name is Korean for “tiger”), an all-electric SUV. This proved to be a popular model and has been in continuous production since then.
- At present, Hyundai owns a 33% stake in Kia, while Kia owns a 15% stake in Hyundai.
Hyundai And Kia: Similarities And Differences
- Hyundai and Kia have similar histories.
- In 1994, Hyundai bought Kia’s parent company.
- Since then, Hyundai has used Kia as its low-cost option for global sales.
- Kia is the more affordable option for Hyundai vehicles in the United States and China, but not in other global markets such as Europe or Australia.
- The two brands are sold side by side in some markets such as South Korea, where they share many parts and models between them.
- In the United States, Kia is a much smaller brand than Hyundai with only about one-tenth the number of dealerships compared to the parent brand.
- In 2016, Kia was ranked fourth in total vehicle sales for South Korea behind Hyundai, GM Korea, and SsangYong Motor Company
- In recent years, it has been growing at a faster rate than its parent company as it gained popularity among younger buyers
- Kia has been known to have a strong presence in the United States, China, and South Korea, but is still seen as a small player in other markets.
- Kia operates several manufacturing and assembly plants around the world including the United States, China, Russia, West Point (United States), Slovakia, India, and several other countries.
- In 2017 Kia announced that it would be opening a new factory in Mexico by 2019 to build its new crossover SUVs for North America.
- Kia Motors Corporation is headquartered in Seoul with additional offices located outside of Korea in New York City; London; and Frankfurt.
Why Are Kia And Hyundai Different?
- Hyundai is a much larger, more global company than Kia. In 2012, Hyundai sold 2.5 million vehicles around the world compared to just over 400,000 for Kia. Hyundai is also a much older company than Kia; it was founded in 1967 while Kia was founded in 1944 as a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts.
- Hyundai and Kia are owned by different groups. While they were once part of the same company, today they are owned by very different groups. Hyundai is owned by the Hyundai Motor Company and its chairman, Chung Mong-Koo, who took over control of the company in 2000 after his father died. Chung Mong-Koo owns about 20% of the shares himself and has two children who work in executive positions at the company as well as four grandchildren working at various levels at Hyundai Motor Group companies (Hyundai Motor Group is an umbrella group that includes subsidiaries such as Genesis Motors and Kia Motors).
- The two companies have different business models. While both companies offer a variety of vehicles, they are not competing in the same segments. Kia is focusing on smaller cars and crossovers while Hyundai focuses on larger, more expensive cars and low-cost luxury vehicles.
- The two companies have different strategies for growth. In the early 2000s, Hyundai began to look for ways to expand beyond its domestic market in South Korea and began to look at global markets such as China, Europe, Brazil, and the United States. Kia focused on building its brand in its domestic market before expanding globally.
- Kia and Hyundai are not the same company, but they do have similar histories. They were both founded in the late 1960s and grew rapidly into the 1990s. In 1994, Hyundai bought Kia’s parent company and began to use Kia as its low-cost option for global sales.
Kia and Hyundai are different Korean car manufacturers that have different target customers. However, they have been steadily moving upmarket in an effort to minimize the differences between the two brands. No matter which brand you choose, the most important thing is to do your due diligence. Compare models, read reviews, and test-drive the car before finalizing your purchase. For reliable and trustworthy cars, you can trust either of these car manufacturers.