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Hyundai SUV's May Be Built At Kia's Georgia Plant

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On: Tue, May 11, 2010 at 2:14PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Hyundai SUV's May Be Built At Kia's Georgia Plant

In car news, it seems that Hyundai may be shifting production of the Santa Fe SUV from the site of current assembly in Montgomery Alabama to Hyundai’s sister company (just 80 miles across the state line), Kia’s new plant in Georgia.  Kia Motors, the South Korean automaker officially opened its United States plant in February of 2010 in West Point Georgia in the hopes of expanding its presence in the North American markets.

The good news is that the decision to move production may create more jobs at the West Point, Georgia plant by as many as 3,500 new positions by spring of 2010, which is a much needed boost to the economy of a region hit hard by the recession. Although the official word has not yet been announced, according to Car News, a spokesman for Hyundai stated that the plan is being assessed “as a way to get the most efficiency out of the two plants,” referring to Hyundai and Kia.

Two Hyundai auto parts workers are rumored to have stated that they are getting ready to lay off workers at the Montgomery, Alabama plant, or send them over to the West Point Kia Plant in Georgia. Although Hyundai and Kia are competitors in the auto market, they are both owned by the same parent company in South Korea, Hyundai Kia Automotive Group. Plans to combine production at the same plant would be an attempt by the automakers to keep up with the increasingly high demand for the Hyundai and the Kia (50,000 Sorento SUVs were produced at the West Point plant in just 6 months). Last month Hyundai sold over 18,000 U.S. manufactured Sonatas and nearly 6,000 Santa Fe SUVs, according to autonews.com.

Sales of the popular Santa Fe have increased by as much as 53 percent from February 2009 to February 2010. The Kia Sorento and the Hyundai Santa Fe share many of the same mechanisms, so it makes sense that it would be cost effective to assemble the vehicles at the same plant. It would also enable increased production of the two vehicles to meet the increasing demand.

A consultant with marketing and research firm that works with Hyundai Kia Automotive Group stated, “Originally, the plan was to have a Hyundai facility and a Kia facility and keep them separate. Production-wise, though, it’s a more efficient allocation of resources to have SUVs in one place and sedans in the other.”

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