Kia will invest $200 million and create 200 about new jobs on a new assembly line to carry out its previously disclosed plan to build its first electric SUV in Georgia.
The EV9, slated to begin production in the second quarter of 2024 at the Korean automaker’s West Point plant, will also be the brand’s first electric model produced in the United States.
Hyundai may have taken the limelight with its coming $5 billion-plus plant in the southeastern part of Georgia, but over on the western border with Alabama, Kia has spent the last 14 years churning out innovative models and minting thousands of jobs.
Landed in 2006 with production beginning in 2009, first foreign-owned assembly plant in Georgia touched off an automotive boom in the state that has taken on a new flavor and urgency as an electric-vehicle gold rush takes shape.
According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Kia alone has invested $1.9 billion since its landmark announcement. Including its many suppliers, the plant has helped spur 14,000 jobs.
The EV9 will join four combustion-engine models already assembled in West Point: the Telluride, Sorento and Sportage SUVs and the K5 mid-size sedan.
“The Kia Georgia team looks forward to continuing its tradition of being the best of the best as our plant begins production of its first EV,” said Stuart Countess, president and CEO of Kia Georgia.
The production plan comes as foreign automakers race to build new electric models in the U.S., in part to ensure that they qualify for the $7,500 tax incentive that Korean automakers have previously said unfairly excluded foreign-made models.
Auto industry analysts say that the three-row, seven-seater SUV is poised to fill a niche in the EV market that has so far been void of serious competitors at an accessible price point. While Rivian, another Georgia investor, is making large electric SUVs with price tags pushing six figures, many expect that Kia’s EV9 will start in the mid $50,000 range.
“This will be the most innovative vehicle that we have ever built and will be a standout in the EV market and on the road,” said Sean Yoon, president and CEO of Kia Motors North America and Kia Motors America in a news release issued by Gov. Brian Kemp‘s office. “Best of all, it will be assembled in West Point, Georgia.”