Kia Motors today announced plans to expand production at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) with the addition of the critically acclaimed Kia Optima midsize sedan. The West Point, Georgia plant is scheduled to begin producing the 2012 model year Optima in the third quarter of 2011, and KMMG is currently accepting applications for a third wave of hiring to support the increased production. The total number of team members at KMMG is expected to reach nearly 3,000 later this year.
"The success of the West Point, Georgia plant and the high-quality Sorento CUV built there underscores the attention to detail and commitment to quality and craftsmanship exhibited by each KMMG team member and is the primary reason for Kia Motors' decision to add Optima to the plant's production line," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO, Kia Motors America (KMA) and KMMG. "Kia is experiencing tremendous growth in the U.S., and the increased volume at KMMG will create more jobs at the plant as well as nearby and on-site suppliers and is the latest demonstration of our unwavering commitment to the U.S. and local economies."
KMMG began producing the 2011 Sorento in November, 2009, and the CUV continually exceeded expectations and has been KMA's best-selling vehicle for 15 consecutive months. In 2010, the U.S.-built Sorento represented 30 percent of KMA's total sales. There are more than 2,300 team members currently at the plant, which produced more than 123,500 Sorento models in 2010. With a production capacity of up to 300,000 vehicles per year, KMMG is expected to generate more than 7,500 new on-site and local supplier jobs in addition to the 3,000 team members employed at the plant.
The Optima production announcement comes as Kia's U.S. sales and market share are rising as a result of the company's design-led transformation. After setting an all-time annual sales record in 2010, KMA reported the best monthly and quarterly sales results in company history in March. KMA's year-to-date sales are up more than 36 percent, and sales of the all-new Optima have nearly doubled since its arrival in Kia dealerships in November 2010.
The striking new 2011 Optima has been well received by consumers and the industry since its launch in fall 2010. This new chapter in the history of Optima is preceded by a slew of awards, including earning an overall five-star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), being named a Consumer Guide® Automotive "Best Buy," a "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an Edmunds' InsideLine.com "Editors' Most Wanted" and "Best New Model" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance.