Wednesday, July 20, 2016


It has been a long road for South Korean car maker Kia, which first came onto the scene in the early 90’s and became the target of choice for derision and jokes by automobile owners and drivers owing to their car models’ weird contours (akin to the stereotypical boxy old Volvo) and cheap performance, embodied in the Kia Pride which they derived from the Ford Festiva. Those days are long gone, and the journey has been worth it, for now Kia has proved its worth by coming in first a trusted car quality ranking survey, beating out the usual title-holding luxury car brands.

BBC reports that the 2016 JD Power Initial Quality Survey has given first place to Kia Motors, only the second time in the 30 years the consultancy’s annual survey has been conducted that a non premium brand had been given the honor; the first time had been 27 years ago, and Lexus was the winning-est out of the high quality brands that have gotten Number One.

All in all, an impressive run for the Korean manufacturer considering its origins as a humble company that made simple cars that only needed to run and nothing more. Yet in a decade or two the product quality just started coming in leaps and bounds. By 2013, Kia had shown up in JP Power’s Top Ten ranking. Come 2015 it was the Silver Medalist of sorts. This year, as TopGear puts it, Kia Motors outperformed 32 other brands in sheer car quality for the US market, a hot zone of brand competition like nowhere else.

The Initial Quality Survey rates car brands by how many flaws and problems are discovered by owners per brand over a period of 90 days. To gain the top spot, Kia Motors needed to beat the industry average of 105 problems reported per 100 cars; Kia owners noted only 83 problems total.

Kia Motors America executives are understandably over the moon with the news. COO Michael Sprague tells USA Today: “Ranking number one in the entire industry for initial quality is the result of Kia’s decade-long focus on craftsmanship and continuous improvement, and reflects the voice of our customers, which is the ultimate affirmation. As the highest ranked brand in the industry, there is no doubt Kia is a world-class automaker.”

Porsche follows in second place for this year’s survey, with Kia’s corporate cousin Hyundai, running third. If it was any comfort for American car brands, they at least collectively ranked higher than their foreign competition.

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