Aiming for broader market, Kia scored big with four-wheeled Brisa
BLAST FROM THE PAST– 7
|Kia’s first sedan, the Brisa. The car, whose name means “light breeze” in Portuguese, hit the Korean market in 1973 as a pickup truck. [JoongAng Ilbo]|
Soon after launching its three-wheeled car, Kia set its sights on a broader market: four-wheeled passenger vehicles.
The Brisa B-1000 pickup truck hit the Korean market in 1973, and a year later Kia introduced a sedan version.
The vehicle was based on Mazda’s Familia, which gained huge traction in Japan when it debuted in 1964.
Although the last Brisa (which means “light breeze” in Portuguese) rolled off the production lines in 1981, it played a significant role in Korea’s automotive history by helping the local auto industry move beyond the assembly production of imported cars, which was widely practiced here at the time.
In the first year, 65 percent of the parts in the Brisa - including the engine, drive shaft and clutch - were made in Korea.
The ratio increased steadily over the years. In 1975, Korean parts accounted for 77.8 percent of the total. A year later, the ratio hit 89.4 percent.
That was possible because Kia Industry developed a 2.0-liter gasoline engine in 1973 using Korean technology, the first local company to do so.
In fact, the Brisa was developed to meet the government’s goals of increasing the ratio of Korean auto parts in vehicles here and getting local companies to manufacture cars and trucks that were affordable for the general consumer.
The company produced the sedan version of the Brisa, which was released in December 1974, at its Sohari plant in Siheung, Gyeonggi. The vehicle had a 1,000 cc engine with 62 horsepower and a maximum speed of 140 kilometers (87 miles) per hour.
The vehicle quickly gained a foothold here, capturing 58.4 percent of the country’s automobile market in 1975. A total of 10,202 Brisa’s were manufactured in the Sohari plant.
In October of 1975, Kia introduced the upgraded version of the Brisa sedan, which was equipped with a 1.3-liter engine that had 72 horsepower and a maximum speed of 155 kilometers per hour.
The vehicle was based on Mazda’s Grand Familia.
The upgraded Brisa aimed to compete with the Pony manufactured by Hyundai Motor, which made its debut in 1975 and rapidly started to encroach on the Brisa’s customer base.
Kia released new versions of the vehicle, including a station wagon model, in 1976 and 1978.
Between 1973 and 1981, a total of 31,017 Brisa’s were manufactured, and 1,526 units were exported.
By Lee Ho-jeong [email@example.com]