Kia Motors has decided to produce 50,000 units of its popular compact crossover Soul at its factory in Georgia, the United State. The Soul model to be produced in the U.S. plant will be loaded with a 2.0-liter petrol engine. Production will start in mid-July of this year.
Currently, all of the Soul models are produced at Kia’s factory in Gwangju, Korea. Sources at the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) said that Kia produced 165,508 units of the Soul in 2017, exporting about 95 percent (157,561 units) of the output. It is Kia's flagship export vehicle, with seven out of 10 exported to the United States.
Kia Motors sells the Soul's third full change model at home and abroad this year. The first model made its debut in 2008. The carmaker sells gasoline 1.6 turbo and electric models In Korea and gasoline 1.6 and gasoline 2.0 models in North America.
As Kia Motors has decided to shift some of the production volume to its U.S. factory, a reduction in work volume at the Gwangju factory is inevitable. Kia Motors produced about 130,000 units of the Soul at its Gwangju factory last year. This is a drop of about 22 percent from 2017.
Automobile analysts are worried that the job exodus at Kia Motors could spread to other industries at a time when the Korean manufacturing industry is facing the worst conditions due to U.S. trade pressures and a sharp rise in the minimum wage.