Winter 2018, the Winter Olympics are full on. Korean local sponsor Kia overwhelms even us with press releases. A link CineCars can’t possible pass by.
The world is glued to the TV screen. Jumps up with joy whenever a fellow countrymen wins at one of the many disciplines. Colleagues pause whatever they were doing to fill you in with the latest news on sports you never even knew existed. Your neighbour suddenly knows everything on the tactics of curling and the whole world is flabbergasted about the orange enthousiasm in the Holland House. We’re all sports crazy. During the many previews attention is given to the country hosting the olympics, South Korea. On television we see images of folklore and beautiful countrysides. Strangely enough there is hardly any mention of Korea as an industrial mogul, as if that wouldn’t fit into the touristic picture they’re creating.
We only notice it, when the first press release by Korean car manufacturer Kia hits our virtual desk. A bran that until recently led an anonymous existence building ditto city- and family cars. Today Kia is busy leaving those days behind and proudly presents winning no less then three illustrious iF Design Awards for their current models. Not bad at all and worthy of some congratulations. Kia’s contemporary top model, the Stinger, is really a stunning automobile. Sharp design with an absolutely sporty appearance. Performance is top notch as well, this Stinger is far from an anonymous family car.
It is good to see how a brand develops and tries to climb the ladder within the automotive world. Great to see how Kia has set itself impressive goals. Of course this is a necessity, in a very competitive branch like the automotive appearance and image is decisive. Kia the brand knows a humble beginning. In 1944 they produce steel tube and bicycle parts. Their first very own bicycle is released in 1951. Using Honda licenses light motorcycles are built as from 1957 on, moving on to the first motorvehicle in 1962. Being a small lorry it is built under license of Mazda. Only in 1974 Kia dares to take on car manufacturing. The model is called Brisa and will remain in production up until 1981. This first branch on the Kia tree is a clone of the Mazda 1300. Later Mazda products like the 121 will return Koreafied as the Kia Pride. We doubt if the designers really were that proud of their product in those days. A more exciting ‘creation’ is the Kia Elan. The distressed Lotus factory sells the rights to their Elan to the Koreans and suddenly the manufacturer of boring family cars is building exotic sports cars. Alas the Kia Elan is far from a sales miracle. Officially it hasn’t even been marketed in Europe and the US
Mother company Kia Motors has had some turbulent times. Bankruptcies led to forced alliances with Ford and with Hyundai at present. Thus the brand grew to a range of no less then thirteen models on the European market. Some of those models still very close to the criteria of anonymous family saloons. However the design department at Kia isn’t sleeping. Today it has become a full blown part of the company, that doesn’t have to be ashamed of their products. Models are getting more beautiful, more modern and more and more Kia. The all new Stinger is a car the world watches just as eagerly as the Winter Olympics. As a matter of fact, that iF Design Award is Kia’s very own gold medal!