It’s been a busy begin to the 12 months for the Kia manufacturing manufacturing unit in West Level, Georgia.
Within the midst of provide chain points and labor shortages, the plant launched a brand new president and CEO.
Stuart Countess spoke to WABE’s “All Issues Thought-about” Tuesday on the Georgia Chamber’s “Way forward for Georgia Summit” at Georgia Tech.
The dialog began across the 2023 Kia Sportage subcompact SUV, which, simply this month, turned the fourth car mannequin produced right here in Georgia.
“It offers us with some flexibility to regulate to regardless of the client demand is. If they need giant SUVs, mid-size, smaller SUVs, it simply permits us to flex very simply and hold the whole plant at most capability,” stated Countess.
Kia needed to halt manufacturing a number of instances in 2021 due to a scarcity of semiconductor chips. However total, manufacturing was at report ranges final 12 months, in line with Countess. With greater than 350,000 automobiles produced on the facility annually, he notes that the West Level plant makes greater than half of all Kia automobiles bought within the U.S.
But it surely hasn’t been business-as-usual during the last 12 months. Countess says previously, manufacturing schedules have been deliberate nicely prematurely. Now, he’s pressured to judge the schedule on a weekly — and generally each day foundation.
“That’s a little bit little bit of an irregular course of, however we’ve discovered a means, not less than in our facility, to handle that,” stated Countess. “However I feel extra importantly, it’s how we talk it to our workforce members in order that they will perceive why we’re having to make these shifts in manufacturing schedules.”
Countess says the scarcity of semiconductor chips stays among the many greatest provide chain points.
“We’ve seen some ranges of enhancements, however definitely there must be extra,” Countess stated of the semiconductor chip scarcity. “The challenges going ahead are going to be as we transfer to electrification, [vehicles] are going to require extra semiconductors, in order that’s going to require extra capability.”
Throughout this month’s Tremendous Bowl, Kia unveiled its EV6 electrical car. These vehicles received’t be produced in Georgia for now. However with analysts projecting main strides in EV adoption within the subsequent 8-10 years, Countess is aware of the times of the plant solely producing gas-powered vehicles could also be numbered.
“I feel what it actually, actually means for West Level, Georgia, is making ready ourselves. As in any enterprise, the plans develop over what the necessity is,” stated Countess. “However our aim and our duty at our facility is to arrange the workforce in order that we’re prepared when [Kia] headquarters says ‘we wish you to implement this car.’”