Just over three years ago, I attended the ground breaking ceremony for the new Kia factory in West Point, Georgia. The weather was soggy and damp and there wasn’t much to see beyond a hilly, 2,100- acre site that the Korean automakers promised to turn into one of North America’s assembly plant – a heck of a stretch for a company long known for building econocars using cheap labor.
But just a few weeks ago, as I turned off the specially constructed exit ramp and turned onto Kia Avenue, I had another chance to visit the site where my first glimpse revealed an ultra modern, pristine automotive manufacturing campus gleaming in the warm sun. Three years had brought changes. Major changes.
The factory was finished, the production line running, stamping presses installed, welding operations opened, paint shop ready and training of first employees had been completed. The new, $1 billion factory was warming-up the production line to produce the new, 2010 Kia Sorento crossover vehicle. Since my latest trip to Georgia, the facility has gone from prototypes to market-ready versions of the Sorento