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Kia Expanding Georgia Factory

Kia started a $100 million project to expand its West Point, Ga., factory so it can build another 60,000 vehicles per year to handle growing sales.

WEST POINT, Ga. (AP) -- Kia Motors has started a $100 million project to expand its West Point, Ga., factory so it can build another 60,000 vehicles per year in order to handle growing sales, the company said Thursday.

The company already has hired 1,000 more workers and is preparing for a third shift to build the Sorrento crossover vehicle, and starting in September, the Optima midsize sedan, Kia said in a statement.

The factory now employs about 3,000 people and can build 300,000 cars a year, spokeswoman Corrine Hodges said.

It is expanding the parts stamping, welding, paint and general assembly areas to increase the annual output to 360,000 cars and crossovers, the company said.

Kia sales have grown wildly, rising 53 percent in May and 45 percent in the first five months of 2011, compared with the same periods a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp.

The West Point plant, about 70 miles south of Atlanta, will see a new press, added welding robots, a paint shop expansion and an expanded railroad spur, the Korean automaker said in a statement.

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