KIA plant celebrates second year of production in US

Thousands of jobs attributed to West Point, Georgia plant

By: Kristen Letsinger oanow.com
Published: November 15, 2011

 

WEST POINT, Ga. —

It may be a baby in terms of auto plants, but KIA’s operation in across the Georgia border already has a lot of mileage.

Saturday, the plant, which produces approximately 300,000 vehicles annually, will celebrate its two-year production anniversary.

In November of 2009, the company began manufacturing Sorentos. Today, the Korean manufacturer now produces three models at the plant: the Sorento, Hyundai’s Santa Fe, and its latest launch, the KIA Optima.

“It’s been a great ride for us to date,” J. Randy Jackson, KMMG vice president, said. “The people in the communities and the regions that (are) around here, supporting us have been fantastic.”

Jackson estimated that in it’s few years of operation, KIA has created anywhere from 10,000 to 11,000 direct jobs, in addition to approximately 30,000 jobs that can be connected to the plant because of area expansion.

Other than KIA, the 2,200-acre site is also home to KIA suppliers Mobis and PowerTech.

KMMA public relations specialist Patrick Sands said vehicles begin as coils that head into the stamping shop where presses form the metal into as many as 11 million vehicle panels per year. From the stamping shop, panels are moved into the welding shop where more than 250 robots weld them together to form the body of a vehicle. From there the bodies head via conveyor to the paint shop before finally moving into assembly.

After KIA’s vehicles are assembled each one must be inspected and sent to the on-site test track.

Jackson said the company is in the middle of an expansion that, when complete, will allow KMMA to manufacture 360,000 vehicles each year.

“So far we’ve been fortunate,” he said. “Our cars are in demand.”

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