Hyundai and Kia have a unique relationship. The two automakers are owned by Hyundai, which is a conglomerate consisting of several companies. But while the two automakers share engineering and development resources, they have separate sales, marking and distribution organizations. So how do the the two automakers view one another?

The New York Times reports that Hyundai Motor America spokesperson Jim Trainor likens Kia to "any other competitor in the automotive space." With separate sales teams and dealer networks, "competitors" could be an apt description, at least in the U.S.

But at the same time it's difficult to paint Kia as a true competitor to Hyundai when, according to former Hyundai product planner and current automotive consultant Jim Park, the two automakers share an 8,000-employee engineering and testing facility where there is no distinction between Hyundai and Kia employees.

And think of it this way. Would you consider Dodge and Jeep to be competitors? The two marquees share some platforms and there are no unique powertrains, yet the two have unique styling and some vehicles that don't overlap. And what about Cadillac and Buick? The two makes touch some of the same price-points, yet there are now zero shared platforms or factories until the Cadillac XTS arrives.

While we don't agree that Hyundai and Kia are true "competitors," it's at least impressive that the automakers have maintained very distinctive styling despite nearly identical hardware. Further, Hyundai has managed to keep rear-drive transportation to itself, at least for now. Hyundai is also going after the youth market with offerings like the Veloster, despite the fact that the under-40 crowd has traditionally been Kia's cup of tea.

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