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How Kia Earned Their Way to Become Number One

I have a partnership with Kia

It has been a little over a month since I have swapped my 2017 Mercedes GLS 450 for a 2017 Kia Sorento SXL, and I don’t ever want to go back. The few short weeks that I have been driving a Kia I have realized that Kia is just as good, and in my opinion even better than most luxury cars that I have driven in the past. It is comfortable, luxurious, and has every feature that our family could want in a vehicle.

Last week, I went to San Diego to spend a couple of days learning more about the Kia brand. Why San Diego? Music is at the heart of San Diego and is also part of Kia’s DNA – music is the soul of Kia. Just like music evokes an emotion in people, that is the goal of the Kia brand.

When Kia first came to the US, they were creating cars that they were not very proud of making. The one thing that I love about Kia is that they are humble and honest with themselves that they have come a long way. They recognize that they were not building the best cars when they came to the US, but they have made serious strides to change. Their journey has been a work in progress, and they have grown more than any other auto brand in the US over the past twenty years.

Seven years later, they were trying, but the company was not where they wanted to be. The J.D. Power Initial Quality Study ranked Kia at the very bottom, but the company kept pushing to improve their company.

Ten years ago, Kia decided that it was time to reinvent. It was time for them to do something completely different than anyone would expect from the company. They began to have an extreme focus and commitment to design, technology, and jobs in the US. Since quality was not their strength, they knew that they needed to have a stronger focus on quality, and they created partnerships to help with evolving the brand perception.

The major change started with Peter Schreyer. He is from Germany and designed many luxury cars including the first Audi TT. When he first came to Kia, it shook the automobile industry, and everyone was curious about what Schreyer would do to help change the brand. The first thing that Schreyer did was to help Kia design a signature look. A look where when people would see the car driving down the road, they would know that it was a Kia. Peter Schreyer then designed the tiger nose (on the front grill of the car). It is something that is unique to the Kia brand and goes along with how the company was going after something like a tiger with aggression and tenacity.

“When I started at Kia, it was important for me to establish an identity and consistent feeling about the brand. The story about how Kia came to life is about much more than aesthetics. It involves intricate choices, and how complex ideas come together to create something that generates an emotional response. It excites me how fast the company is evolving.” Peter Schreyer

Kia has invested over 2.5 billion into the US since 2002. Before they opened their manufacturing plant in Georgia, the town was desolate. Kia has brought over 15,000 jobs to a small neighborhood in Georgia, and 40% of the vehicles sold in the US are made at this plant.

Then it happened – Kia reached its goal of going from the bottom to #1 on the 2016 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study! It was the first time in 27 years that it was not a luxury brand to take first place. The only other car that was non-luxury that topped this table was Toyota, which is a company that has always been associated with quality.

Today, it is a whole new world for Kia. They are #1 in the industry for initial quality, #1 for owner satisfaction, but it’s not the accolades that are important to Kia – but how the people who own the cars feel about the brand. People know that there is something in the past that wasn’t strong, but they also know that those days are gone. That is what I have been experiencing when driving the Kia Sorento. It is a car that I enjoy driving, has a beautiful design, is dependable, and I know that it is a car that will last!

Congratulations to Kia for being a company that never gave up, and pushed harder than any other company to make significant changes to create a product that is worthy of being the best! When looking to purchase your next car, know that when purchasing a Kia, you are getting behind the wheel of the safest and most dependable car on the market.

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