Kia Motors, South Korea's second-largest automaker, said on Nov. 17 it had begun production at its first plant in the United States.
The one-billion-dollar plant at West Point, Georgia, can produce 300,000 vehicles per year.
Kia is affiliated with South Korea's top carmaker Hyundai Motor, which runs a plant in Alabama. The two firms make up the Hyundai Automotive Group, the world's fifth biggest automaker.
The Georgia plant employs 2,500 workers and its parts suppliers will create 7,500 additional jobs in the state, Kia said.
"The start of production for our first manufacturing facility in the United States further demonstrates our commitment to growth in North America," B.M. Ahn, head of Kia's U.S. operations, said.
The South Korean carmaker has fared relatively well during the world economic slowdown, thanks partly to its focus on cheaper and energy-efficient vehicles. Kia posted a record high quarterly net profit of 402 billion won (US$348 million) for the third quarter, with its global sales jumping about 30%.
Kia produces nearly 1.5 million vehicles per year in 13 manufacturing plants in eight countries, employing 40,000 people worldwide.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009