Kia to Get Truck, Sorento from Ga. Plant

March 17, 2008

Korean automaker Kia is working on its new assembly plant at the Georgia-Alabama state line, but until now speculation has said that the factory would be building mid-size cars and possibly a crossover vehicle for the U.S. market. Now, Automotive News is reporting that the factory will be building two vehicles--a crossover that will take on Honda's Pilot, and a pickup truck destined to go head to head with Honda's Ridgeline.

The decision to build the truck hasn't been officially confirmed, Automotive News reported today in its online edition. But the plans have been in the works for a long time, and Kia's new management under new American CEO Ahn Byung-Mo pushed the idea at a dealer meeting in February. The news weekly says the project is now a go.

The new vehicle would be based on a new edition of the Kia Sorento sport-utility vehicle. Today's Sorento is a body-on-frame design with rear- or four-wheel drive. The 2010 model, a complete redesign, likely will shift to front- and all-wheel drive to make it a more direct competitor for the likes of the Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Highlander. It will enter production in November 2009 in West Point, Ga., the News says.

The new Sorento will spawn a pickup that likely will share the Sorento's chassis but may get a flexible pickup bed like the one shown on Kia's concept Mojave pickup from the 2004 Chicago auto show. The pickup will get a V-6 engine.

Kia's on a product offensive as of late, with this week's New York auto show hosting the production 2009 Kia Soul. But what do you think of this latest move? Does the Sorento need to be a crossover instead of a true SUV? Is a pickup truck what Kia needs to compete -- and more the point, does the world need two Honda Ridgelines? Discuss in a comment below.

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