Kia is the latest in a string of automakers to announce plans to build new or expanded factories in Mexico. The Korean company has signed a $1 billion deal to establish a plant in Monterrey in the state of Nuevo León, with construction starting in late September. If everything proceeds on schedule, the facility should be complete in the first half of 2016 and be able to produce 300,000 vehicles a year.
The $1-billion investment will create a "new, highly automated manufacturing plant," according to Kia's announcement, a facility covering 1,235 acres of land. Confirming earlier rumors, Kia will produce compact models there, but the company won't reveal specific model names, just yet. When complete, the factory in Mexico will boost the automaker's annual capacity to 3.37 million vehicles a year with 1.69 million of those in Korea and 1.68 million abroad. It will also join Kia's plant in Georgia (where the Optima and Sorento are made) as the business' other North American location.
Kia hasn't kept plans for the Mexican factory a very close secret and openly admitted it was "being considered as a possible location" to Autoblog. The country was chosen partially because of its free-trade agreements (read: NAFTA), that make it less costly to move models elsewhere, not to mention its easy access to the North, Central and South American markets. The new plant should also alleviate some of the tight supply issues Kia has had in the US.
Mexico has become a hotbed of auto manufacturing as of late. Just this year, Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti announced a joint-venture plant there, and BMW revealed its own plans for a $1-billion factory. Scroll down to read Kia's full announcement of its $1-billion investment south of the border.