KIA Georgia produces 4 millionth vehicle, ready to add EV9 to lineup

Published 7:27 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2023

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You know it was a busy week at KIA Georgia when the biggest news wasn’t that the plant produced its 4 millionth vehicle, a feat that has been accomplished in only 13 years.

That’s what happens when KIA announces the West Point plant will be building its first electric vehicle, the EV9.

Stuart Countess, president and CEO of Kia Georgia, spoke at Tuesday morning’s LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce Early Bird Breakfast, gave an update on the plant and shared some insight on the brand new EV9, which was unveiled at the New York Auto Show last week.

“This will be the most sophisticated vehicle that we’ve ever built,” Countess said after showcasing a vehicle of the new EV9. “There’s no doubt, once you’ve seen the video, that it will stand apart from anything else on the road.”

The EV9 is the first three-row EV for KIA and has a targeted electric range of 300 miles. 

When production of the EV9 starts in West Point, KIA Georgia will produce five cars on its line. Countess was asked if that meant there would be additional employment needs at KIA Georgia.

He said KIA is still finalizing numbers, so he couldn’t get into them specifically. However, he did confirm that the company would have additional needs.

He was also asked about charging stations for electric vehicles, and whether they would soon be in greater supply. Countess said he didn’t have a direct answer, but he said KIA is actively involved in discussions as government leaders work on that need.

Countess said he thinks the world in general is going to have to change its mindset as electric vehicles start to take a larger part of the market. 

“We have to change our mindset. Where we are used to going to the filling station getting a Coke, a candy bar, a bag of chips, and we go on in 10 minutes and head to the beach. Yeah, absolutely it’s going to be a different world. It’s going to be 20 to 25 minutes [to charge] and people are going to have to plan their route where stations are.”

Countess said the average person drives 50 miles a day, so a car with hundreds of miles of charging range would be good for up to a week. The EV9 can charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in less than 25 minutes. 

As for the four millionth vehicle, it came off the line on April 6 and was a blue Telluride X-Pro destined for a dealership in Tupelo, Mississippi. Countess said that was fitting since it seems like the plant can’t build the Telluride fast enough.

Countess said in 2022 KIA set a new market share record at 9.1%. He said when the West Point plant opened KIA’s market share in the United States was about 3%. 

Countess said the Telluride, Sorento and Sportage represented 67% of Kia of America sales and that the first part of 2023 has been the best first quarter in the company’s history.

“Again, KIA Georgia was the one leading that effort,” Countess said.

Across the country, Kia’s March total of 71,294 units sold marked the second-highest monthly performance in company history and was the eighth consecutive month of record-breaking sales, according to a press release from KIA from April 1.