Kia has opened its first US manufacturing plant over the weekend. The state-of-the-art Georgia plant is capable of producing 300,000 cars annually for both North American and global markets.
Attending the opening festivities was Mr Mong-Koo Chung, Chairman of Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group and Group President and CEO of Kia Motors America, Mr Byung-Mo Ahn.
"Kia is proud to call West Point, Georgia home and we look forward to many years of growing together," said Mr Ahn.
"Continued diligence has helped elevate Kia to one of the fastest growing automobile brands around the globe."With the successful launch of the new Kia Sorento last month, and the opening of our first manufacturing plant in the United States, the Kia brand is well positioned for further growth and to become a worldwide leader in quality and innovation."
Representing a US$1 billion investment by Kia Motors Corporation, the sprawling 204,000 square metre plant is situated on more than 2,200 acres of land.
The site has four main areas that include stamping, welding, paint and assembly. A transmission shop, module shop and two miles (3.2km) of test track are also included at the new facility.
As well as meeting the latest OH&S requirements, the plant is also on the cutting-edge of best environmental practices. A railway system within the grounds also helps facilitate transportation.
The plant provides some 1,200 jobs, a figure that is set to double by the end of the year. Nearby suppliers make up a further 7,500 jobs in the region.
The plant will primarily produce Kia Sorento models, but can be used to produce additional models as needs change.
Kia's US sales grew by 9.8 per cent in 2009 over the previous year to 300,063 units. The brand aims to increase sales to 347,000 vehicles by the end of 2010.