Prospective employees, warm up your resumes.
Kia Motors said today it is gearing up for a third wave of hiring — about 1,000 jobs altogether — in anticipation of adding a third vehicle to its assembly plant in nearby West Point, Ga.
“All we know is that there will be a third vehicle,” said Corrine Hodges, spokeswoman for the Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia facility. “But the model hasn’t been decided. We just know it will be a Kia.”
The massive plant, located off Interstate 85 in Troup County near the Alabama state line, already employs more than 2,000 people. It opened a year ago, assembling the Kia Sorento crossover utility vehicle, which has become a top seller for the South Korean automaker this year.
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The company marked production of the 100,000th Sorento at the West Point facility in early September. It followed that up with the launch in early October of the Hyundai Santa Fe sport utility vehicle — marketed by Kia’s sister company, which also operates a factory in Montgomery, Ala.
Now comes the trifecta, putting out the hiring sign for 1,000 more workers to produce a third vehicle, a move that will give the Kia plant about 3,000 on its payroll by the end of next year.
“Our current team has set a high standard of performance,” said Randy Jackson, director of human resources at Kia Motors in West Point. “Now we’re looking for still more candidates who want to take on the challenge of becoming the world’s best ‘industrial athletes.’ Once again, we’re asking everyone, ‘Can you make it?’”
The 2011 Sorento has become Kia Motors’ top-selling vehicle in the U.S. since January. Nearly 89,000 of them have been purchased through October.
The smaller Forte and Soul vehicles — now made overseas — also have been hot, with U.S. sales of each approaching 60,000, which would appear to make one of those models a good candidate for the West Point factory. The company also is preparing to launch its first gas-electric hybrid vehicle under the Optima name in early 2011.
Kia overall has peddled just over 299,000 vehicles in the U.S. this year, up from 216,000 through the first 10 months of 2009, according to its website.
“KMA has achieved new quarterly sales records in each of the first three quarters this year, and the strong start to the fourth quarter is an indicator that our brand’s tremendous momentum and growth will continue through the end of the year,” Byung Mo Ahn, group president and chief executive officer of Kia’s U.S. operations, said in a statement.
The Kia plant is situated on 2,200 acress on the eastern edge of West Point, minutes from LaGrange. It was built to handle production of up to 300,000 vehicles a year.
Aside from those employed at the main facility, Kia suppliers that have clustered in the area around the mother plant have created more than 5,200 jobs.