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Fast-Growing Kia Expanding Georgia Plant

Sales booming, capacity growing to 360,000 vehicles.

by on Jun.02, 2011

Kia will begin producing the 2012 version of its Optima sedan at West Point later this year.

Fresh on the heels of a 53% jump in May sales, Kia has announced plans to spend $100 million on a series of expansion projects at its assembly plant in West Point, Georgia, as part of a plan to focus on domestic production for an expanding U.S. market.

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia Inc. expects that by the time the project is through the still-new factory will see capacity jump by roughly 50%, to 360,00 units cars and crossovers annually.

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The expansion follows Kia Motors’ announcement at the 2011 New York International Auto Show that the award-winning Optima midsize sedan will be added to the plant’s production line.

Each of the plant’s four main shops – stamping, welding, paint and general assembly – will be expanded as part of the effort to raise the plant’s capacity starting in 2012.

Beginning this coming September, the 2012 model-year Optima will be built alongside the Kia Sorento CUV, which has been the brand’s best-selling vehicle each month since arriving in dealerships in January 2010.

In addition to the physical expansion, KMMG has completed the hiring process for nearly 1,000 new team members in preparation for the addition of a third shift – which begins later this month – bringing the total number of jobs created at the plant to more than 3,000.

“The success of the West Point, Georgia plant is the result of the dedication of our team members and the world-class quality that goes into each vehicle we build, and the increased volume and addition of new team members is further evidence of our commitment to the U.S. and local economies,” said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of Kia Motors America and KMMG.

Long in the shadows of the larger Hyundai brand, Kia has begun gaining traction on its own as it has begun to redesign and reposition products like Sorento and Optima so they are no longer mere clones of Hyundai offerings.

For the first five months of 2011 Kia sales surged 45% compared to the same period last year.

“Kia is experiencing unprecedented growth in the U.S., led by the best-selling Sorento,” said Ahn, “and with demand for the critically acclaimed Optima currently outpacing supply we are proud to add the popular sedan as the second Kia vehicle on the production line.”

The expansion will be good news for both Kia and its Korean sibling.  The West Point plant has been helping Hyundai handle its own growth, producing that marque’s Santa Fe crossover alongside the Sorento. The planned Georgia expansion will allow the factory to still produce the Hyundai model without cutting into Kia’s needs.



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