Following an initial investment of €700m ($745m) to build the plant – its only one in Europe – the Hyundai subsidiary has ploughed a further €1 billion into the region. This year €60m was spent, with a further €130m budgeted for 2017.
Capacity at the plant has grown steadily in line with Kia’s overall global capacity, producing about 10.4% of all Kia’s cars since 2006. Currently, the plant’s 350,000 vehicle annual capacity makes up almost 10% of total group capacity of 3.59m.
Kia currently manufactures the cee’d model family, Sportage and Venga at the facility and exports to 95 countries worldwide. Every day, two trains and 90 transporters are dispatched, carrying about 1,400 cars.
Since 2006, Kia has exported most of its vehicles to Russia (18%), the UK (12%), Germany (9%), Spain (6%), and Italy (6%).
However, that mix has changed over time with Russian currently third (9%), according to data from the OEM. The UK is now the biggest export destination with 16% of cars heading there in 2016, while Germany is second with 10%.
In the last 10 years, the most popular model produced by Kia in Žilina has been the Kia cee’d, accounting for 45% of the total number of vehicles manufactured so far, followed by the brand’s current European best-seller, the Kia Sportage.
The plant is also home to two engine production shops. The 1.6-litre diesel engine is the single most popular engine produced in Slovakia, accounting for 20% of the total engine production to date, though the majority (53%) of the 3.8m units produced are petrol engines.
Almost half of the engines produced by Kia are exported to Hyundai’s facility in Nošovice, in the Czech Republic.
By the end of November this year, Kia had already achieved 400,000 vehicle registrations in Europe, bettering the previous record of 384,790 units set in 2015 with a month left to spare.