Kia Motors' EUR1bn European manufacturing facility at Zilina in Slovakia this week began making the three-door Proceed six weeks ahead of schedule.

The model expands the exisiting five-door Ceed range with which the Korean automaker began output in eastern Europe.

"The build quality and the productivity levels achieved by our Zilina operations are quite remarkable," said Kia Motors Slovakia (KMS) president and CEO In-Kyu Bae.  "These two factors, plus the skills and versatility of our workforce, have enabled us to bring forward assembly of the first customer cars by six weeks."

Senior vice president Kia Motors Europe, Jean-Charles Lievens, said: "The introduction of the Proceed will expand our appeal to a different audience and will attract numerous European consumers who find three-door cars particularly attractive and who have not yet considered our products."

The three-door hatchback has an extended nose, a shallower front grille, new-style headlamps, a wider bumper with a prominent lip spoiler, a deeper central air intake and larger fog lights. The windscreen is much shallower and the doors are 276mm longer with a unique design.  The side profile is distinctive, with a beltline that rises much more steeply towards the rear of the car.

With 2,600 employees working two shifts, Zilina is now building four different Kia models - Ceed five-door hatchback and wagon, the new Proceed and the Sportage SUV - on the same assembly lines.

Kia is targeting 100 cars per employee per year when fully operational, making Zilina the most productive car plant in Europe.