The new Kia Motors plant in West Point, Ga., will start making the Hyundai Sante Fe SUV this fall, as production is shifted from Hyundai’s Montgomery, Ala., factory, a Hyundai spokesman confirmed Tuesday.
Hyundai Motor Co.’s parent company owns a major stake in Kia. At the West Point plant, which started production in late November, Kia makes the Sorento, an SUV similar to Hyundai’s Sante Fe.
Plans for the West Point plant have always included production of a second model in addition to the Sorento, Kia’s top-selling vehicle in the U.S.
“The seeds that were first planted on our initial trip to Korea in 2003 continue to bear new fruit today,” Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said in a prepared statement Tuesday. He said the switch would produce additional jobs for Georgia but did not specify the number.
Kia spokeswoman Corinne Hodges also declined to say how many additional workers will be added once Sante Fe production begins at West Point Sept. 27. Currently, 1,900 people work at the West Point plant, she said. In announcing the plant, Kia executives said it would employ 2,500 at full capacity of 300,000 vehicles per year.
She added that there are plans to eventually produce additional vehicles other than the Sorento and Santa Fe at the West Point factory.
Hyundai spokesman Robert Burns said that while the Montgomery factory will lose the Sante Fe line, it will increase production of the Sonata model.
“Based on what we anticipate right now, we’re going to be fine,” he said when asked about job losses in Montgomery.
GlobalAtlanta first reported on the Hyundai switch in March.
Though the South Korean auto makers operate as separate entities in the U.S., there is precedent for a Kia plant producing Hyundai models. Kia’s plant in Slovakia recently began making the Hyundai ix35, a small SUV marketed in North America as the Tucson.