ZILINA, Slovakia, March 20 (Reuters) - South Korean carmaker Kia Motors said it expected output in Slovakia to rise 13 percent this year driven by Russian, British and German demand for its sport utility vehicle and compact car models.
Kia Slovakia, which operates an assembly plant in the northern Slovak town of Zilina with an annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles, is one of the euro zone’s biggest exporters.
Car production rose around 10 percent last year to 252,000 vehicles, beating its pre-crisis output peak of 201,000 cars in 2008 for a second consecutive year.
“We plan to manufacture more than 285,000 cars this year despite an unfavorable situation in European markets, taking advantage of our models portfolio,” Dusan Dvorak, Kia Motors Slovakia spokesman, said on Tuesday.
“We plan to invest around 110 million euros this year, mainly into a launch of a new Kia Cee’d model,” he said, adding the model was expected to go online in April.
The car maker produces two SUV models in Slovakia, the new generation of the Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35, a compact model Kia Cee’d and small size compact model Kia Venga.
Kia launched mass production in Slovakia in 2006 and employs more than 3,900 workers.
Engine production at Zilina rose by 12 percent on the year to 359,000 units, up from 320,900 in 2010.
The Slovak car industry, including the assembly plants of Volkswagen and PSA Peugeot Citroen, is among key drivers of the heavily export-reliant economy, which rose by 3.3 percent in 2011 and was expected to grow by 2.3 percent this year. (Reporting by Martin Santa, editing by William Hardy)