Kia Motor To Build First U.S. Plant In Georgia

South Korea's Kia Motors Corp said March 13 it would set up a $1.2 billion plant in Georgia, as its parent Hyundai Motor Group seeks to globalize its production base. Located in West Point, Troup County, Georgia, Kia Motors' first U.S. plant will be completed by 2009 with an annual capacity of 300,00 units. It will employ approximately 2,500 local workers, while five or six suppliers are expected to set up operations in Troup County and the surrounding areas, thereby resulting in the creation of an additional 2,000 jobs.

Kia chose West Point over rival sites because of its proximity to a Hyundai plant in Alabama, some 135 kilometers (85 miles) away. The Hyundai Motor plant in Alabama opened last year.

The new plant is part of Hyundai Motor Group's efforts to triple its overseas production to three million units per year, more than 40% of its total production.

Georgia promised various incentives worth $410 million including include free land and infrastructure, subsidies for the creation of new jobs, financial support for training workers and tax breaks.

Kia expects its North American sales to climb 15% to 350,000 units this year and further grow to 800,000 by 2010. Its total 2005 sales stood at 1.22 million units, including 266,000 in South Korea. It has more than 32,500 employees at 12 manufacturing and assembly operations in seven countries, with its network of distributors and dealers covering 160 countries. Kia is building plants in China and Slovakia as well, with an annual production capacity of 300,000 units each.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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