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Kia opens US factory

Kia's new plant in West Point, Georgia, USA (copyright image)

Kia's new plant in West Point, Georgia, USA

Kia Sorento production is underway in America (copyright image)

Kia Sorento production is underway in America

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1st March, 2010

Officials with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG), Inc. were joined by dignitaries from the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, the State of Georgia, local city and county officials to celebrate last week's grand opening of Kia’s first-ever U.S. vehicle manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, capable of producing 300,000 cars annually for the North American and global markets.

The ceremony was attended by approximately 500 VIPs from Korea and the U.S., including Chairman of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group Mong-Koo Chung; Group President and CEO of KMMG and Kia Motors America (KMA) Byung-Mo Ahn; Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue; and a number of other Korean government and State of Georgia officials.

“Kia is proud to call West Point, Georgia home and we look forward to many years of growing together,” said Ahn. “Continued diligent work has helped elevate Kia to one of the fastest growing automobile brands around the globe. With the successful launch of the 2011 Kia Sorento CUV and establishment 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 $1 billion investment by Kia Motors Corporation, the sprawling, new 2.2 million-square-foot (204,000 square metre) automobile manufacturing plant is situated on more than 2,200 acres of land. KMMG consists of four main shops: stamping, welding, paint and assembly. The site also includes a transmission shop, module shop and a two-mile test track where every vehicle produced by KMMG will be thoroughly tested. KMMG’s general assembly area is outfitted with more than a half mile of height-adjustable conveyors to achieve the most favorable installation position for each employee and reduce physical fatigue. It is outfitted with wood flooring, which provides a more comfortable and forgiving work environment for the employees.

KMMG’s cutting-edge technology ensures high productivity and high efficiency for each process. The stamping press delivers 5,400 tons of pressure and an automatic panel loading system; the fully automated welding shop boasts 242 welding robots; the paint shop uses eco-friendly, water-soluble coatings; and various systems are in place to keep inventory to a minimum via timely parts delivery.

Another highlight is the real-time processing and control system (RPCS) which feeds parts to the production line. It includes a digital signboard enabling timely and appropriate supply of parts via connection to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which contains all production data. RPCS also minimises inventory in the parts warehouse by matching the flow on the production line.

KMMG also features a railway system within the grounds to facilitate transportation. Parts and finished cars are transported into and out of the site via roads and railway in the vicinity.

Governor Perdue noted the event meant the continuation of a mutually beneficial partnership between the State of Georgia and Kia that will mean many great things for the State in years to come.

“This is a momentous day for Georgia as Kia Motors has brought thousands of new jobs to this area, and is truly delivering as a tremendous corporate citizen,” said Governor Perdue. “We value our relationship with Kia and pledge to continue providing specialised training through the Kia Georgia Training Centre that will guarantee a quality workforce and the future success of this plant in Georgia.”

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The massive Kia automobile manufacturing plant and its supplier companies have already provided thousands of jobs. KMMG currently employs more than 1,200 people and is expected to nearly double that number by the end of the year, while on-site and nearby suppliers will provide up to 7,500 additional jobs in the region.

Mass production of the all-new 2011 Kia Sorento CUV began on 16th November, 2009 with the product going on sale in the U.S. in January of this year. Selling 7,398 units in its first month, the 2011 Sorento was Kia’s best-selling vehicle in January.

“The outstanding early performance of the first vehicle produced from our West Point, Georgia plant is a significant achievement for KMMG, KMA and the Kia brand as a whole,” said Ahn. “As we grow we will continue to expand our line of vehicles here and abroad while staying true to the Kia brand tenets of value, quality, safety and technology; and KMMG will play a prominent role in achieving our goals.”

Despite the industry downturn amid the global recession of late 2008 and throughout 2009, Kia Motors’ car sales in the US grew by 9.8% over the previous year to 300,063 units in 2009. Kia aims to increase sales by 15.6% to 347,000 vehicles in 2010.


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