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Kia and Hyundai have been crushing it lately. With flagship models like the Kia Telluride and the Hyundai Sonata, it’s hard to go wrong. Year over year, these two Korean brands continue to grow into increasing success in the industry. But are Kia and Hyundai the same manufacturer?

In the U.S. these brands have had a slow come up. Once thought of as brands intended strictly for budget buyers, both Kia and Hyundai are on the map today in a way the North American market hadn’t seen yet from either brand. But with both of these carmakers coming from Korea and offering similar a 10-year warranty, it’s easy to get mixed up. Are they the same or different, what’s the story?

Which came first Kia or Hyundai?

Kia was founded in Korea in 1944, according to the Kia Corporation Wikipedia page. However, Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company began in 1947, according to the Hyundai Motor Company Wikipedia. Hyundai Motor Company wasn’t founded until quite a bit later in 1968. So Kia definitely came first.

2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited parked in the desert with mountains in the background
2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited | Joe Santos via MotorBiscuit

Kia proceeded to tackle decades of production and sales, putting out numerous models in collaboration with other automakers like Ford and Mazda. But in 1997, Kia filed for bankruptcy during the Asian financial crisis. This is the point in the story when Kia and Hyundai change their relationship significantly.

Hyundai had released its first automobile, the Cortina, with Ford in 1968. This lead ultimately to Hyundai’s production of the first completely South Korean engineered and produced car––the Pony––in 1975. In 1998, Hyundai acquired 51% of Kia Motor Corporation (now changed to Kia Corporation). This, Hyundai Motor Group was formed.

Are Kia and Hyundai the same manufacturer?

Technically, no. Kia and Hyundai aren’t the same manufacturer. They are more like corporate sisters with Hyundai Motor Group being the parent company. So, while models such as the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade share platforms and underpinnings, they are still entirely different brands that stand alone.

A Kia Telluride on display on a stage
A Kia Telluride on display | Paul Marotta/Getty Images

In fact, by 2013 Hyundai Motor Group reduced its ownership of Kia. Moving forward within Hyundai Motor Group, both brands continued to produce. Kia ultimately found prominence in the British market space. Now has respect in the North American Market as a mainstream brand. So does Hyundai. Each brand wins awards and earns accolades year over year.

Since 2015, Kia has had partial ownership of numerous Hyundai Motor Group subsidiaries. Today, while Hyundai and Kia are not the same manufacturer, they do have their sights fixed on the same goal. The future of mobility is the name of the game.

What’s in store for the future of these Korean auto brands?

According to Hyundai Motor Group, the parent company of Kia and Hyundai has already been busy in the first few months of 2021. Kia extended its partnership with the League of Legends European Championship 2021. It also won the ‘Large SUV of the year’ awrd and the 2021 What Car? Car of the Year awards with the Kia Telluride SUV. Speaking of SUVs, have you seen the all-new Kia Sorento redesign? On top of all these achievements this year, the brand also unveiled its modified logo and fresh brand slogan: movement that inspires.

Hyundai Motor Company has also been busy. The Elantra won the prestigious North American Car of the Year Award for 2021. In addition, the brand also partnered with Rhizome of the New Museum in order to showcase “leading digital art” on a global scale.

In terms of the future, Hyundai Motor Group won’t be left behind in terms of alternative fuel solutions and electrification. The corporate conglomerate is already advancing its hydrogen strategy with a new fuel cell system plant in Guangzhou. Plus, the corporation just introduced an advanced humanoid robot that performs automated customer services. This robot is called ‘DAL-e’ and is the perfect example of where this auto group is headed in the future. They may not be the same, but Hyundai and Kia are both companies that show no signs of slowing down. Each brand is experiencing some pretty generous success of late, and we expect the trend to continue.

A look at the front end of a green Hyundai Bayon in front of a grey background
The all-new Hyundai Bayon | Hyundai


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