On February 13, Kia executives held a meeting with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and other state officials to unveil a historic achievement: the state’s first electric vehicle.

A fleet of three-row electric EV9 SUVs, just off the assembly lines at Kia’s West Point factory and recently featured in a Super Bowl commercial, was parked outside the Gold Dome. It portends well for the Peach State as Hyundai, Kia, and Rivian accelerate their individual plans to build electric vehicles in large quantities throughout Georgia.

Being first is something to be proud of, according to Steven Center, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Kia America, with the EV9 at the forefront of the field.

He remarked, “We’re very excited for Georgia because of its big future in e-mobility, and we’re very proud of that.” In essence, the EV9 is an electric version of Kia’s well-liked three-row gas-powered crossover, the Telluride. Available now, the EV9 has a starting price of $56,395.

Kia has been expanding its West Point facility by $200 million in order to add EV9 production to its existing assembly lines. Stuart Countess, the head of Kia’s operations in West Point, says the expansion, which creates 200 new jobs, is expected to formally open in the spring. According to him, assembly lines will have the capability to alternate between manufacturing gas-powered cars and plug-in SUVs.

“We can adjust as the market moves in either direction because we are flexible,” Countess remarked. The West Point plant can produce roughly 350,000 cars a year.

According to Center, Kia has changed course recently to concentrate on employing and educating employees as part of the expansion. Officials from Kia recently introduced the Veterans Technical Apprenticeship Program to state leaders.

The United Auto Workers have been waging resurgent unionization campaigns against Kia and other automakers, focusing on Southern factories, including the one in West Point. Center did, however, clarify that Kia brass does not anticipate those efforts to go beyond the initial hurdle.

“People in manufacturing don’t stand to gain from (union) representation because we have good relationships with them,” Center stated.

Topics #Electric vehicle (EV) #Electric vehicle production #EV9 SUV #Georgia #Kia #United Auto Workers (UAW) #West Point factory