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Kia plant completes upgrade for EV production

By Byun Hye-jin

Published : Jan. 23, 2024 - 14:53

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Kia’s small-sized battery-powered sport utility vehicle EV3 (Kia) Kia’s small-sized battery-powered sport utility vehicle EV3 (Kia)

Hyundai Motor Group’s smaller affiliate Kia’s second auto manufacturing plant in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi Province, will resume operation in February, after an eight-month refurbishment to prepare the plant for electric vehicle production, industry sources said Tuesday.

The company reportedly announced to the factory’s production line staff, who were on paid leave during the monthslong shutdown, that they would start working from Jan. 30.

An official from Hyundai Motor Group confirmed the factory will reopen soon without sharing details.

The second Gwangmyeong plant, which used to produce Pride and Stonic vehicles for exports, had new equipment to enable it to produce electric cars.

Once fully operational, it will manufacture new battery-powered cars including the small-sized sport utility vehicle EV3 and midsized sedan EV4 this year with an annual capacity of 150,000 units.

“The smaller EV3 and EV4 will diversify Kia’s current EV lineups -- midsized EV5 and EV6 and large-sized EV9,” the official said. “The price (of the two car models) is expected to be less expensive than the EV6, offering a wide range of options to customers.”

Industry insiders project EV3 and EV4 will be priced around 40 million won ($29,900) and 30 million won, respectively, excluding the government subsidy for ecofriendly cars.

“Given the global EV price war prompted by Tesla and BYD, if Kia’s new electric cars have reasonable price tags and offer better performance, it might stand a chance in defending market share,” said a source close to the matter on condition of anonymity.

Kia’s midsized electric sedan EV4 (Kia) Kia’s midsized electric sedan EV4 (Kia)

Kia’s Gwangmyeong plant will be Hyundai Motor Group’s first production base solely dedicated to EVs, applying innovative manufacturing technologies developed by the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center in Singapore, according to Kia CEO Song Ho-sung during a press conference on Jan. 3.

The new automotive technologies include automation processes powered by artificial intelligence and robotics, digital twin-connected systems, data-based operating systems and low-carbon manufacturing.

The plant will also dramatically improve production quality, making 95 percent of the products pass the quality test during the manufacturing process and cater to the demands of global markets, Song added.

In line with Hyundai Motor’s EV transition strategy, Kia set a higher target for electric car sales of 1 million units in 2026 compared to last year’s 250,000 units. It plans to sell more than 1.6 million EVs in 2030.

Starting next year, Kia will produce purpose-built vehicles, a customized autonomous driving car running on an EV platform, in its auto plant in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. It is negotiating with the company’s labor union on building a new factory for PBVs in the area as well.