KIA-bestia.jpg” width=”200″ height=”122″ align=”right”>The
new plant Kia Motors plans to build in Brazil will produce the Besta passenger
van, writes Rogério Louro Alves.

The model is the most popular Kia vehicle in the South American country with
10,471 sold last year.

It accounted for 65.1% of Kia’s total 16,081 sales.

The new plant will be built in Camaçari, Bahia state, in the same region
that Ford is also building a new vehicle factory.

Despite Kia’s announcement, the Brazilian government has not yet confirmed
that it will extend an old contract deadline until 2003.

Earlier, Reuters reported that Kia plans to begin factory construction in March
and would start building 30,000 vehicles a year from the end of 2001.

Reuters said that a former affiliate of Kia agreed with the Brazilian government
in early 1997 to build a $US150 million auto plant in Brazil. But the factory
was shelved after Kia and the former affiliate, Asia Motor Co, ran into financial
troubles.

The contract stipulated that Asia Motor would be subject to a fine of around
$US200 million if the plant was not completed this year.

Last month, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung requested visiting Brazilian
president Fernando Henrique Carodoso to extend the investment deadline until
2003.

Kia Motors was acquired two years ago by Hyundai Motor.