Established in 2004, Kia’s production plant in Žilina, Slovakia, was the company’s first manufacturing facility in Europe and was integral to realizing Kia’s presence in the European market. The factory is positioned 200 kilometres north-east of Bratislava and occupies a space of over 1.6 square kilometres.
The location of Žilina is significant, because it provides Kia with easy access to many large European cities, a skilled local workforce, and high-quality suppliers. Around eight per cent of Kia’s global workforce (3,800 people) work at the plant, alongside over 530 advanced robots.
Žilina’s state-of-the art facilities
The high-tech modern factory is divided into five distinct areas: press, body, paint, engine, and assembly shops. Each one plays a key role in the efficient production of new vehicles. The facility also houses an inspection line and proving ground to ensure all vehicles meet the exacting standards of European drivers.
An on-site training centre allows employees to consistently meet the high standards of workmanship specified by Kia. Every part of the factory is meticulously maintained and operates smoothly, which ensures that all vehicles driven off the production line are worthy of the company’s unrivalled seven-year, 150,000-kilometre warranty.
Žilina’s economic impact in Europe
In 2017, Kia Slovakia purchased supplies worth €4.3 billion, of which €3.0 billion (71%) was sourced from inside the EU. The factory continues to contribute to the Slovakian economy and GDP by sourcing approximately 25% of its supplies from within the country. The plant is now one of Slovakia’s major corporations employing a 3,800 strong workforce assisted by 530 high-tech robots to produce 350,000 vehicles and 540,000 hybrid-compatible powertrains per year.
The Kia models produced in Slovakia are exported to 76 global markets – the majority of which are sold across Europe and Russia. Kia’s range of European-manufactured models account for nearly 50 per cent of the company’s total European sales.
Production capacity and model lines
Each year, the plant’s 7.5-kilometre-long production line produces around 350,000 cars – 10 per cent of Kia’s global output – as well as around 540,000 engines from the on-site engine production workshops. Since its opening, the plant has produced over four million vehicles, and nearly five million engines. The Žilina facility has a production line capable of producing eight different models simultaneously. It is, and always has been, responsible for producing all members of the Ceed family which now includes Ceed, Ceed GT, Ceed Sportswagon, ProCeed, Xceed as well as plug-in hybrid versions of both Ceed, Sportswagon and Xceed. The plant is also responsible for producing three generations of Sportage, including Mild-Hybrid ‘Ecodynamics+’ variants.
The Kia Ceed and Žilina’s histories are forever entwined. Ceed was Kia’s first vehicle to be engineered and manufactured exclusively in Europe, and it was the first car to roll off the production line in 2006. In 2015, the facility produced its one millionth Ceed. In late 2018, the plant started production of the acclaimed third-generation Ceed.
A milestone was reached for another car in May 2021, when a Kia Sportage rolled off the production line to become Žilina’s four millionth vehicle. The Žilina plant has produced three generations of the Sportage compact SUV, commencing with the second-generation model in 2007. Since then, more than 1.6 approximately two million examples of the Sportage have been produced. The fourth-generation model, launched in 2015, is still in production today.
The fifth-generation model was launched in November 2021 gaining a dedicated product specifically designed and developed for Europe. The all-new Sportage benefits from a European-focused high-tech engineering program that has realized an optimal wheelbase, ideal proportions and driving dynamics honed for European roads.
Kia continues to monitor important market performance of its vehicles ensuring that the cars produced at Žilina are relevant to the European buyer, while maintaining the company’s strong reputation for design, quality and reliability. In December 2020, Kia invested €70 million in a range of upgrades to the Žilina plant to facilitate production of Kia’s new ‘Smartstream' internal combustion and hybrid powertrains. A small-capacity, high-efficiency, hybrid-compatible gasoline engine was built on three different engine production lines, with a fourth line dedicated to the brand’s latest ‘Smartstream’ 1.6-litre diesel engine. This proactive diversification strengthens Kia’s shift towards hybridisation and electrification, in line with the wider European market trend.