Kia Motors Manufacturing has confirmed rumors it will add production of a second model at its recently opened assembly plant, in West Point, Ga.
Limited production of the Santa Fe, sold by sibling Korean carmaker Hyundai, will begin on Sept. 27. The following month, Kia will launch a second shift at the Georgia assembly line.
Current employment at the plant is about 1,900, and will grow to about 2,500 with the addition of the second shift. Including local suppliers and other support operations, Kia claims total Georgia employment for the plant will reach about 10,000.
The factory currently produces the Kia Sorento, which has been the brand’s most popular model ever. Since its launch, in January 2010, Kia has sold more than 59,000 Sorentos, which will now share the assembly line with the Hyundai Santa Fe. The Santa Fe shares the same underpinnings as the Kia crossover.
By putting production of the Santa Fe at the West Point plant, Hyundai can focus on production of another model at its own plant in Alabama, the strong-selling Sonata.
“We could sell substantially more if we had the production capacity,” John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, told TheDetroitBureau.com, in reference to the Sonata, currently that brand’s most popular model.
The Kia plant, in Georgia, is the Korean maker’s first in North America. It launched production of the 2011 Sorento on Nov. 16, 2009. With the addition of the second shift, the West Point facility will have capacity to assemble 300,000 vehicles annually.
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