Kia Motors Corp. will offer a new 7-seat mid-sized SUV in the United States next year and will build the Sorento SUV at its plant in Georgia for the 2010 model year, company executives told dealers today.
The new SUV will be called the Borrego and will be Kias largest. It will go on sale in the United States in late spring or early summer as a 2009 model, Kia officials told dealers at their annual meeting in Las Vegas.
The concept version of the Borrego was known as the HM or Mesa. The SUV is based on a stretched platform of the Sorento and uses a body-on-frame construction.
It will come standard with a V-6 engine. A V-8, Kias first, will be available. A Kia spokesman said he did not know if the V-8 engine will be the same one that Hyundai will use on its new rear-wheel-drive Genesis sedan, which is to go on sale about the same time as the Borrego.
Kia did not tell dealers if the U.S. Borrego would get the 240-hp V-6 diesel engine that will appear on Korean models.
But Hyundai Motor Co. CEO Dong Jin Kim told Automotive News in April that a clean V-6 diesel engine will arrive in the United States by 2009 or 2010. He said that engine will be available on the Hyundai mid-sized Veracruz crossover. Kim could not speak for Kia, but Hyundai and Kia share some components. Hyundai owns 39 percent of Kia.
As for the Georgia plant, dealers were told the first product will be the redesigned Sorento, which is expected to be a 2010 model. The five-seat Sorento now is Kias largest SUV. Job 1 is scheduled for November 2009.
A second vehicle, which the company did not name, also is scheduled for the plant. The Borrego will be made in Korea.
The new plant, in West Point, Ga., will have a capacity of 300,000 vehicles. Kia broke ground on the $1.2 billion factory in October 2006. It will be Kias first North American assembly plant.
There had been speculation that Kia would build both the Sorento and the Optima sedan at its Georgia plant, but spokesman Alex Fedorak said the Sorento was the only vehicle planned for construction at this time. Kia did not release any production numbers during the dealers meeting.
Sales of imported Sorentos through the first 10 months of 2007 totaled 32,172, down 25.8 percent from the same period a year ago.