The Big Car Database


Native name
아시아자동차공업 주식회사
Former type
Industry Automotive
Fate Merged into Kia Motors
Successor Kia's Gwangju plant
Founded 1965
Defunct 1999
South Korea
Parent Kia Motors
Asia Motors
Revised Romanization Asia Jadongcha
McCune–Reischauer Asia Chatongch'a

Asia Motors Industries, traded as Asia Motors was a South Korean car manufacturer established in 1965 and closed in 1999.

Since 1976, it was a subsidiary of Kia Motors


Kia's Gwangju plant, pictured in 2016, the former site of Asia Motors

In 1962, as one of the measures to comply its First Five-Year Economic Development Plan, the Korean government passed a law exempting from taxes imported parts to assemble KD cars locally. In 1965, as a result of these incentives, Asia Motor Industries was established in Gwangju through the financial support of entrepreneur Lee Mun-hwan. The company was initially manufacturing military vehicles, trucks and buses but soon it began negotiations with Fiat and in 1970 it started to assemble Fiat 124 models. It diversified into the SUV and heavy vehicles market, including large and medium duty trucks, special military vehicles, lightweight cars, civilian jeeps (a small jeep look-alike called the Rocsta and later the Retona), motor vehicle components, to include engines, and buses and mini-buses. In 1969, Asia Motors was acquired by Dongkuk Steel. In 1973, the South Korean government launched a plan to promote the production of low-cost cars for export. Asia Motors was unable to satisfy the plan's conditions, losing its car assembly permits, and was purchased by Kia in 1976, as the government promised Kia, in exchange of doing so, a monopoly of the military vehicle production for South Korea. In 1978, Asia Motors signed an agreement with Hino Motors of Japan with the aim of achieving economies of scale for its low-volume products. Hyundai in turn purchased Kia and the Asia brand was discontinued in 1999. The Rocsta's replacement, the Retona, was sold under the Kia brand.[citation needed]

Failed Brazilian production

In 1994, Asia Motors do Brasil, an independent importer of Asia vehicles, was established in Brazil. Asia Motors do Brasil achieved some sales success and, in 1996, it signed an agreement with the Brazilian government for building an assembly plant at Camaçari in exchange of tax exemptions for imported vehicles. The plant was never completed, and the unpaid taxes blocked the entry of Kia into Brasil until 2013, when the Brazilian justice determined Kia was not bound to pay them, as it was not related to the importer.



Asia Rocsta in the Philippines
  • Fiat 124
  • Rocsta
  • Retona


  • Asia Topic (Mazda Bongo/Kia Bongo I)
  • Asia Towner (Daihatsu Hijet/Kia Towner)

Small / medium-sized buses

Asia Cosmos AM818.
  • Asia Combi (AM805/815/825)
  • Asia Cosmos (AM818)

Large bus

Asia Granbird in Russia
  • Asia AM927 / AM937 / AM928 (city buses), AM929, AM939, AM949 (Gran Bird)


  • Asia Granto (AM) truck
  • Asia AM420


  • KM900 APC - license version of the Fiat 6614 Armoured Personnel Carrier for Republic of Korea Army.
  • Massey Ferguson 362A - Asia Motors also assembled/distributed Massey Ferguson tractors.
  • Massey Ferguson 390A - Asia Motors also assembled/distributed Massey Ferguson tractors.