Kia plans to build it 2012 Optima sedan at its assembly plant in West Point, Ga., starting this fall, the company announced today.
The Optima will become the third vehicle built at the plant. Also built there are the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, which share the same platform. The Optima is built on a different platform, which it shares with the Hyundai Sonata.
Production is slated to begin this fall, Tom Loveless, Kia's U.S. sales boss, said at a press conference today.
Sales of the 2011 Optima are up from the outgoing model it replaced in January. Through March, Kia sold 15,554 Optimas in the United States, up 68 percent from the same three-month period in 2010. Kia sales, as a whole, surged 37 percent during the first quarter in a market that rose 20 percent.
Kia plans to build 150,000 Optimas annually at the Georgia plant, said Byung Mo Ahn, CEO of Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.
After U.S. Optima production begins, all future U.S. sales of the Optima will come from the Georgia plant, Ahn said. Optimas on sale now are built in Korea.
Kia doesn't disclose monthly production numbers, but the addition of the Optima could strain the plant's 300,000-unit annual capacity.
What the addition means for the Hyundai Santa Fe crossover, also built at Kia's plant, is unclear. Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford said he was unaware of any coming changes to Hyundai's production plans for the Santa Fe.