Construction will commence in the autumn of this year and vehicles will roll-off the line by the end of 2006. Kia, Korea's longest-established car maker, is part of Hyundai-Kia Motors Group, which had itself been expected to announce its choice of a Central European manufacturing location after investigating Slovakia within a shortlist that eventually excluded Hungary and Poland.
Last year in Europe, Kia sold a record 150,000 vehicles and this year plans to export over 240,000 vehicles. Kia's new European plant will manufacture all-new models currently under development specifically for the European market. Once the new plant is in full production, Kia is expected to boost its overall European sales for both vehicles imported from Korea and built on-site in Slovakia to a total of 500,000 vehicles by 2008. Also participating in Kia's European plant project will be 7-8 Korean automotive parts suppliers, including Hyundai Mobis.
“This has been a methodically organized selection process where literally hundreds of different factors were taken into consideration. We have carefully evaluated each candidate country against a very detailed set of criteria,” said Mr. Kim. “In the end, Slovakia proved to be the best match with our needs.”
Kia aims to be a top five global automaker by 2010. Its 15 manufacturing and assembly operations in 12 countries make more than a million vehicles a year that are sold and serviced through a network of distributors and dealers covering 190 countries. Kia today has 30,000 employees and annual revenues of $12 billion.