SOUTH KOREA: Kia US factory ground-break this month

By just-auto.com editorial team | 3 October 2006

Kia Motors plans to hold a ground-breaking ceremony for its first US factory on 20 October, a media report said.

The fast-growing automaker earlier this year agreed to build a $US1.2bn factory in the state of Georgia but postponed the ground-breaking ceremony for the plant as parent company Hyundai Motor's group chairman Chung Mong-koo was on trial for embezzlement, Reuters said, adding that he was released on $1m bail late in June, two months after his arrest.

"We will hold the ceremony on 20 October local time in the US, but it has not been decided whether chairman Chung will attend or not," a Kia spokesman told the news agency.

Kia reportedly expects the US plant, which will begin production in 2009, to produce up to 300,000 vehicles a year and employ about 2,500 workers. Kia sold 25,114 vehicles in August in the US, 5.4% more than a year ago.

According to Reuters, analysts have said overseas production is crucial for Kia as a rising won cuts into profits - the company sells about 80% of its cars overseas.

The won has risen about 7% against the dollar so far this year after rising almost 18% in the past two years, the report added.

Production began recently at Kia's first plant in Slovakia.