Kia’s plant in Georgia back up after fire at supplier

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Kia’s plant in Georgia back up after fire at supplier

Kia Motors’ plant in West Point, Georgia will resume full production on Monday after a fire a week ago at a Korean supplier’s plant in the area caused a temporary shutdown of the auto factory.

“The plant partially resumed production on Thursday [Wednesday U.S. time] and we intend to start full production on Monday,” a Kia spokesman said yesterday.

“It was a temporary shutdown and we won’t have problems in supplying our cars,” the spokesman added.

A fire started at Daehan Solution’s plant in Northwest Harris Business Park on March 17 and burned 145,000 square feet of the 260,000-square-foot plant. Both the main Kia assembly plant and Daehan stopped operations for two days. They said they do not know what caused the fire or when the factory will be restored.

The Daehan plant employs 300 people and produces headliners and insulation materials for cars assembled by Kia. Headliners typically are felt-covered overhead panels installed for noise dampening and decoration in a vehicle’s interior. The plant is located only minutes away from the Kia plant.

Daehan, a major supplier for Hyundai and Kia, operates plants near the automakers’ factories around the world including in the United States and China.

Daehan also confirmed that there won’t be much difficulty in supplying the parts to Kia because it has another plant in Alabama, where Kia’s affiliate, Hyundai Motor, has a factory.

“We can manufacture the same components in Alabama,” said a Daehan employee. “The parts are interchangable.”

The Daehan employee said one of the two assembly lines in the plant was damaged by the fire but the other was unaffected. “If there is a shortage of parts, we can supply them from Korea,” he said.

The Kia plant located near the Georgia-Alabama border employs about 3,000 workers. It makes the Kia Sorento sport utility vehicle, the Kia Optima sedan, known as the K5 in Korea, and the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. The plant manufactures 300,000 vehicles a year. Kia supplies the Santa Fe to Hyundai.

The Kia plant depends on the local suppliers to feed it parts steadily in what is called “just in time” production. Because of just in time production, the Kia plant does not keep a large inventory of components.

Kia fell 1.5 percent, or 1,100 won ($1), to close at 72,000 won on Friday.



By Limb Jae-un [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]

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