Kia announces US assembly plant

Korean automaker Kia has announced that it will build a plant here in the US, joining its corporate sibling Hyundai in the southeast. Rumors that Georgia was the preferred site turned out to be true, with somewhere around $1.5B expected to be invested into the West Point site. Vehicles will roll out of the Peach State starting in 2009, with 300,000 units per year being built by 2,500 workers. Local suppliers that will be set up in the surrounding region will result in an additional 2,000 jobs.

The location of the site will somewhat ease logistics, with the plant's location on the west side of the state meaning that Hyundai's Alabama site is not far away (about 85 miles or a two-hour drive). A key factor in the decision to build a US plant is the strength of the Korean won relative to the dollar, which has greatly impacted Hyundai's profitability.

Kia expects its US sales to grow from 350,000 vehicles in 2006 to 800,000 units in 2010, which would help Hyundai reach its goal of becoming one of the top five automakers in worldwide sales.

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