• The factory in Teplička nad Váhom near Žilina began construction 20 years ago, and production has been running there for over 18 years
  • Since 2006, over seven million engines have been produced

Twenty years after laying the foundation of the Žilina factory, Kia looks back at an extraordinary journey that represents a success story not only for the company, but for the entire region.

The ceremony to commence the construction of the plant was held in Teplička nad Váhom on 7 April 2004. It was attended by the highest representatives of the Hyundai Motor Group (Kia’s parent company), the Kia Corporation, the then-Minister of Economy of the Slovak Republic, and leaders of the Žilina city.

Kia celebrates two decades in Slovakia
Kia celebrates two decades in Slovakia

Žilina: facilitating Kia’s expansion across Europe

Construction of the plant began in the fall of 2004 and lasted approximately 25 months, including six months of test production. The first car, the “cee’d” model at that time, was mass-produced in December 2006. It was a completely new model, intended mainly for the European market. With the production of engines also starting in the same period, the plant quickly emerged as the springboard for Kia’s expansion across Europe, becoming crucial for the company’s journey.

More models, more technology: investments that paved the way

During its 20-year history, a total of four different models have been produced at the plant: the Kia Ceed, Sportage, Venga, and in the years 2009-2011 the Hyundai ix35. Žilina has produced the Sportage model ever since its second generation and is the exclusive production facility for the Ceed model. The classic 5-door version was complemented in 2007 by Sportswagon and 3-door variants – the latter produced until 2018. Since 2018, the Ceed has also been offered as the ProCeed shooting brake and since 2019 as the XCeed crossover.

Kia celebrates two decades in Slovakia
Kia celebrates two decades in Slovakia

In 2020, Kia Motors Europe completed a range of upgrades to the Žilina production plant. Resulting from a €70 million investment, the plant was geared up to produce the company’s new ‘Smartstream’ internal combustion and hybrid powertrains. Powertrain development teams had successfully improved engine responses, combustion efficiency, and access to torque outputs across a wide range of the most used engine speeds. Incorporating Kia’s hybrid powertrain technology was also key to the development of both engines. These engines formed part of Kia’s broader strategy to develop a wide range of propulsion technologies – including hybrid, electric and internal combustion powertrains – that meet the needs of a diverse range of drivers.

On a journey: from one-shift operations to seven million engines

Initially, the plant produced in a one-shift operation, moving to two-shifts in 2007 and since 2012 three-shift operations began. Due to this increase, the high-tech plant surpassed four million vehicles produced in total after just 15 years, celebrating this milestone in 2021. Today the plant boasts an annual production capacity of 350,000 cars and 540,000 engines. Since 2006, seven million engines have been produced at Žilina.

More than an employer: Kia’s commitment towards municipalities and communities

The carmaker directly employs 3,800 people long-term, while the average length of employment at the plant is 11 years. Because of this, Kia has become a core part of the region and contributes to its continuous development. The company has been a stable employer in the region for 20 years and a strategic partner of the city of Žilina, surrounding municipalities and communities. Through its foundation, started in 2013, the car company has so far supported projects in the fields of education, health, environment, and inclusion worth more than 11 million euros.