Mexican plant will kick off with Cerato sedan for local, US (photo) and Latin American sales

Mexican plant will kick off with Cerato sedan for local, US (photo) and Latin American sales

The Hyundai Motor affiliate has officially launched the Kia brand in Mexico.

The automaker will commence retail sales at 21 dealerships in 10 major cities across the country on 1 July. Initially, three imported models - the Forte sedan (Cerato or K3 in some , Sportage  and Sorento midsize CUV - will be offered with the redesigned Optima midsize sedan comin in November. The company also confirmed that all Kia vehicles sold in Mexico will be covered by a claimed industry best seven year, 150,000km manufacturer's warranty.

The company also said it would expands its dealer network with an additional 26 shops in operation by January 2016 and 65 open by 2017. All Kia dealerships in Mexico will feature the brand's signature 'Red Cube' branding.

Kia Motors' COO  Thomas Oh, said: "As one of the world's last remaining markets in which the Kia brand does not have a sales presence, our aggressive entry into Mexico is a clear sign of the importance this market holds for our future."

Construction of the automaker's first manufacturing plant in Mexico, located in Pesqueria, Nuevo León (near Monterrey), is about half complete and the US$1bn facility is on schedule to commence production in mid-2016. Construction began in October 2014 and is expected to be finished in December 2015. The plant, with planned annual capacity of 300,000 units, will then enter a five-month period of pilot production before first customer cars come off line.

Production will start with the Forte and other compact models will follow. The plant will supply Mexico, the US and other Latin American markets.

The plant will boost Kia global manufacturing capacity to 3.37m vehicles. The plant will employ about 3,000 directly with around 7,000 additional posts at suppliers by 2017.