Hyundai Motor Group’s subsidiary Kia Motors has officially opened its new production facility in Mexico with a ceremony attended by over 500 people.

Construction of the new manufacturing plant, located in Pesquería in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Léon, began in October 2014. The factory – Kia’s sixth overseas production base – cost the automaker and suppliers US$3bn.

“The new plant here in Mexico represents the next step in Kia Motors’ ambition to become one of the world’s leading automakers,” said Mong-Koo Chung, chairman of Hyundai Motor Group. “The innovative design and world-class quality possessed by the cars produced at the Kia Motors Mexico plant will be embraced by our valued customers not only here in Mexico but also in export-bound countries of Latin America and North America.”

Expands global production capacity

Kia’s new plant will have an annual production capacity of 400,000 units, boosting the brand’s global manufacturing capacity to 3.56m vehicles. Production began in May 2016 with Mexico providing the company with a new production base for the C-segment Kia Forte (Cerato in some markets). From the start of 2017, the plant will produce the redesigned fourth generation B-segment Rio, which will have its world premiere on 29 September at the Paris show.

In addition to supplying the local Mexican market, where Kia is targeting a 5% market share by 2020, 80% of the facility’s production is destined for numerous other countries in the region, including the US and other Latin American markets – where demand for Kia cars is expected to increase. The facility is currently operating on one shift, producing around 100,000 cars per year, and is able to manufacture one car every 53 seconds (68 units per hour). A second and third shift will be added in 2017 to bring annual plant capacity to 300,000 units, and Kia expects the plant to be operating at full capacity of 400,000 units utilising three shifts by the end of 2018.

The new plant is a high-tech integrated automotive production facility, with 420 robots automating the press, body and paint shops, as well as the assembly line. Meanwhile, a new quality control centre was established to ensure that all vehicles are manufactured to the highest standards. As the final stage in the production process involves advanced component quality assessment and evaluation, quality control is carried out in tandem with Kia’s suppliers, enabling all parties to benefit from any quality-related findings. The quality control centre will ensure continuous improvements to vehicle quality as well as the brand’s reputation for producing cars that exceed buyers’ expectations.

14,000 jobs, CSR activities in the region

A significant number of new jobs are being created at the plant. By the end of 2017, approximately 14,000 workers will be employed by the Kia Motors Mexico plant and supplier firms.

The site also includes a training centre for assembly line workers. Kia’s systematic approach to vocational training and human resource development will see every employee undergo a 15-day training period before they are assigned to positions on the assembly line, with further opportunities for more advanced training in future.

The Mexico factory will also invest about $1m annually in CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives for the local citizens of Pesquería. These activities will include the donation of vehicles to public security organisations, support for low-income households and the creation of educational facilities and scholarships.

Tour Kia Mexico in two minutes