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Kia Motors, a subsidiary of Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, is South Korea's 2nd largest automobile manufacturer with headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. Its CEO is Chung Eui-sun. The American arm is Kia Motors America. On October 20, 2006, Kia Motors America formally hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its first US assembly plant in West Point, Georgia, at an initial cost of over $1 billion. Since 2005, Kia has started to focus on the European market and is currently the UK's fastest growing car company and had various other successes in the European market.
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According to Kia Motors, the name "Kia" derives from the Sino-Korean words ki ("to come out") and a (which stands for Asia), it is roughly translated as arise or come up out of Asia or rising out of Asia.
South Korea's oldest car company, Kia was founded in 1944 as manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycles. In 1952, Kia changed its name from Kyungsung Precision Industry, and later built motorcycles, trucks and cars. Starting in 1986, in partnership with Ford, Kia produced several Mazda derived vehicles for both domestic sales in South Korea and exports into other countries. These models include the Pride (based on the Mazda 121) and Avella, which were sold in North America and Australasia as the Ford Festiva and Ford Aspire.
In 1992, Kia Motors America was incorporated in the United States. The first Kia-branded vehicles in the United States were sold from four dealerships in Portland, Oregon in February 1994. Since then, Kia expanded methodically one region at a time. Dealers in 1994 sold the Sephia, and a few years later the United States line expanded with the addition of the Sportage.
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