By David Shepardson
(Reuters) -Kia said on Wednesday it will invest more than $200 million in its assembly plant in the U.S. state of Georgia to begin production of its electric EV9 SUV next year.
The Korean automaker said the company will add about 200 jobs to build the three-row SUV alongside four other models at the West Point, Georgia, plant. It will be the first Kia electric vehicle assembled in North America and comes as automakers are shifting away from gas-powered vehicles.
Assembly in North America is a requirement for vehicles to be eligible for up to $7,500 in U.S. consumer electric vehicle tax credits under the $430 billion U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed in August 2022.
A rising amount of electric vehicle (EV) and battery investments have been made in Georgia.
Electric carmaker Rivian Automotive is building a $5 billion plant in the state, while Hyundai Motor Group and SK On said in December they will build a new battery manufacturing plant in Georgia to supply the Korean automaker's U.S. assembly plants.
Hyundai and SK aim to begin operations in 2025 and said "stakeholders estimate it will create more than 3,500 new jobs through approximately $4-5 billion of investment" in Georgia's Bartow County. Hyundai separately broke ground in October on a $5.54 billion EV and battery plant in Georgia's Bryan County.
SK Innovation opened a $2.6 billion battery plant in Commerce, Georgia, in January 2022 that is producing batteries for the Ford F-150 EV.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said more than $22.7 billion have been invested in Georgia with more than 28,400 jobs created since 2020 in the EV supply chain.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in WashingtonEditing by Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis)