While Hyundai Motor Group and Kia Motors are from the same family of companies, Kia has traditionally offered less expensive entry level cars and sportier designs than Hyundai. Hyundai offered cars with more definition and refinement. While the two companies offer products that are very much alike underneath, the major difference is the exterior appearance.
Kia traces its beginnings to a bicycle and motorcycle company that began in 1944. The company produced its first small car in 1974. As of 2015, it produces 1.4 million vehicles annually in plants located in eight different countries. Kia has over 3,000 distributors and dealerships in 172 countries.
Hyundai began in 1947 as an engineering and construction company. It produced its first car, the Cortina, with the help of Ford Motor Company in 1968 and produced its first Korean car in 1975. It began exporting the Pony to Canada in 1984, but the car did not meet the emissions standards of the United States. It began exporting the Excel to the United States in 1986.
The Hyundai Motor Group began in 1998 when Hyundai obtained controlling interest in Korea’s second largest auto manufacturer, Kia. The two companies remain interconnected by numerous shareholding agreements but attempt to maintain separate identities for their vehicles.