Kia Motors is to increase production of its new Optima model with the expansion of its US manufacturing plant in Georgia from September 2011 to cater for American demand for the D-segment saloon.

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) has begun a series of expansion projects in each of the plant's four main shops - stamping, welding, paint and general assembly - to raise annual capacity to 360,000 vehicles starting in 2012.

The Kia Optima will be built alongside the Sorento, which has been the brand's best-selling vehicle in the US each month since going on sale there in January 2010.

In addition to the physical expansion, KMMG has completed the hiring process for nearly 1,000 new team members in preparation for the addition of a third shift - which begins later this month - bringing the total number of jobs created at the plant to more than 3,000.

"The success of the West Point, Georgia plant is the result of the dedication of our team members that goes into each vehicle we build - the increased volume and addition of new team members is further evidence of our commitment to the US and local economies," said Kia Motors America and KMMG group president and CEO Byung Mo Ahn.

"Kia is experiencing unprecedented growth in the US led by the Sorento and with demand for the Optima currently outpacing supply we are proud to add the sedan as the second Kia vehicle on the production line," he added.

Representing an additional US$100m investment by Kia in the US$1bn West Point facility, the projects under way at the plant include: A second 5,400t transfer press being installed in the stamping shop and additional robots being added to the welding shop, while the size of the paint shop is also being increased.

The production line is equally being extended within the existing facilities and new equipment will be installed inside the general assembly shop, while the railroad spur is being expanded.