Kia Corp., South Korea's second-biggest carmaker, said Wednesday it will suspend the operation of one of its eight domestic plants during the second half of this year in preparation for electric vehicle production.
Kia, a smaller affiliate of Hyundai Motor Co., will begin the construction Thursday to change the No. 1 Gwangmyeong plant, just south of Seoul, into an EV plant by the end of December, the company said in a regulatory filing.
It may take time for the plant to begin EV production after the six-month suspension period, the filing said.
The Stonic subcompact sport utility vehicle produced at the No. 1 Gwangmyong plant will be manufactured by Donghee Auto, which has churned out the Morning and the Ray mini cars for Kia, a company spokesman said.
Kia has eight plants in Korea -- two in Gwangmyeong, three in Hwaseong and three in Gwangju -- and seven overseas ones -- three in China and one each in the United States, Slovakia, Mexico and India. Their overall annual capacity is 3.84 million units.
In April, the maker of K5 sedans and Sorento SUVs said it aims to sell 1 million EVs in 2026, and gradually fill its EV lineup with 15 models by 2027.
Kia recently unveiled the flagship EV9 electric SUV ahead of its domestic launch during the second quarter. It plans to gradually launch the EV9 in Europe, the United States and other markets in the second half.
The three-row seat EV9 is Kia's second model equipped with Hyundai Motor Group's dedicated EV platform, called E-GMP, after the EV6 SUV launched in 2021. It comes with a 99.8 kilowatt-hour battery and is expected to travel more than 500 kilometers on a single charge.
On the same day, most of its domestic plants suffered from production losses due to four-hour partial strikes at each plant under the guidelines of the Korean Metal Workers' Union, Kia said in another filing.
But the company didn't provide further details about the partial strikes. (Yonhap)