Kia is hoping to sell more than 300,000 light vehicles in the US in 2006, up from 275,000 in 2005, and at that level Kia executives believe local assembly would be necessary, according to Reuters.

Quoting Kia Motors America chief operating office Len Hunt, the news agency said the automaker could be forced to make a decision about a site for its first North American plant soon, if it reaches its 2006 target.

Kia reportedly has not yet narrowed down its choice to a specific country within North America.

Parent company Hyundai opened its first North American plant in Alabama last year. The second model to be built at the plant (after the Sonata sedan), the Hyundai Entourage minivan, went into production in January and was launched at the Chicago motor show this week.