Kia Corporation announced it would begin construction of an electric vehicle (EV) plant in Hwaseong, South Korea, in March after the automaker reluctantly reached an agreement with unions on the level of employment and the scale of the plant.
The company plans to remodel an existing building within its Autoland Hwaseong complex, which is scheduled for completion in late 2024, and mass production of battery-powered purpose-built vehicles (PBVs) is slated to begin in July 2025.
The facility will have an initial capacity of 100,000 electric PBVs per year, designed for use as local robotaxis, unmanned cargo transporters, mobile offices or other uses. Capacity would be increased to 200,000 units per year if needed.
According to local reports, Kia has agreed with unions to employ 759 workers at the factory, 31% more than originally planned. Given that electric vehicles require far fewer labor and components than conventional vehicles, the automaker also agreed to install electric powertrain production equipment at the plant due to headcount, despite originally planning to source those parts from a larger centralized Hyundai Motor Group (HMG). Furnishings.
Unions in South Korea firmly believe that employment levels in the auto industry will not fall as a result of the transition to zero-emission vehicles, which are estimated to require far fewer parts and far fewer man-hours to produce by 37%.
With Hyundai Motor also set to begin negotiations with unions this year over staffing levels at a proposed domestic electric vehicle plant, a local auto executive described the situation as a “hot potato for the industry,” adding, “Local automakers may need to compete on price and profitability.” while employing a larger workforce than that of other global EV manufacturers.”