Hyundai and Kia have a strange, symbiotic relationship. They share factories, parts as well as engineering knowhow and product testing duties. And yet they remain separate entities with their own marketing, distribution and styling departments.
Michael Sprague, Kia’s VP for marketing and communication describes their relationships to the New York Times likes this:
“Kia Motors America operates as a completely separate sales, marketing and distribution organization in the United States. [Hyundai and Kia share engineering efficiencies] similar in many ways to other global automakers.”
Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor echoes those comments:“[Hyundai treats Kia] just like any other competitor in the automotive space.”
On the flipside of the equation, the final product decisions for both brands are made by a joint Hyundai-Kia board that meets regularly through the year. And some very similar products – such as the Hyundai Sante Fe and Kia Sorrento – are even produced in the exact same factories.
Both carmakers are part of the family-owned Hyundai conglomerate in South Korea, one of the largest such commercial entities in the world. Despite numerous legal challenges from the state government and union, Hyundai / Kia have persevered to become the world’s fifth largest automaker.
By Tristan Hankins