Kia hope to produce 300,000 cars per year when at full capacity and employ 2,500 staff. It's also hoped the plant will provide some 7,500 supplier and regional jobs in the local region.
"The start of production for our first manufacturing facility in the United States further demonstrates our commitment to growth in North America and we are proud to be adding 2,500 jobs to the local economy," said Mr B.M. Ahn, President and CEO of Kia Motors America.
Kia has invested US$1 billion and will use some of the world's most advanced manufacturing techniques to establish new benchmarks for vehicle quality.
The plant's assembly area has almost one kilometre of height adjustable conveyors, allowing each worker to chose the most comfortable height to work with to help reduce physical fatigue. The floor is also made of wood which is more comfortable to stand on, this is the only general assembly plant in North America to use wooden floors.
As well as the main assembly plant the complex also has a body stamping facility and a transmission shop that produces the new six-speed transmission. A 3.2 km test track is also on the site.
The 57 meter stamping press has 5,400 tons of pressure that can stamp steel into 17 different panels for the Sorento and can operate at a speed of seven to 15 strokes per minute.
Since 2002 Kia Motors has invested more than US$1.3 billion in various facilities within North America, including a design centre in Irvine California, a research and development centre in Ann Arbor Michigan and proving grounds in Mojave California.
Kia Motors America has expanded to a full production line and has had 14 years of market share increases and is only one of three manufacturers whose US sales are up over their 2008 results.
by Adam Marshall