New cars spill off the Kia Motors assembly line in every 60 seconds. The automaker’s nearly 4-year-old plant near the Georgia-Alabama line is close to maximum capacity, humming 24 hours a day, often six days a week.
That crunch — plus labor issues at Kia and Hyundai factories at home in South Korea — could give Georgia an opening to lure more production.
Both Kia and Hyundai need to build more cars in the United States to avoid supply issues, auto industry analyst Joe Langley said.
“If they lose a week of shipments [from Korea], it can’t be made up here in America,” said Langley of IHS Automotive in Michigan.
Auto plants are among states’ most coveted economic development coups.
Georgia’s Kia plant employs about 3,000 people, and suppliers account for another 14,000 jobs in two states.
Economic development officials in Alabama, where Hyundai builds Sonata and Elantra sedans, plan a South Korea trip of their own.