Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Kia cee'd - the car from Carpathia

A fascinating day at Zilina finding out how those clever people at Kia, with the help of a few thousand eager Slovakians, turn this:

into this:

in what will be Europe's most productive car factory once it is operating at full speed. The full story should be coming to a copy of the Independent near you shortly but here are some of the headlines. When it's running at full tilt, Zilina is expected to pump out 100 cars per employee per year, beating the levels achieved by what I believe are Europe's current most productive plants, Nissan at Washington in the UK and Opel/GM at Eisenach in the former East Germany.

Zilina's main product, the cee'd, is Kia's first car designed and built in Europe. The company is confident enough in this new model to provide it with an unmatched seven year guarantee. After seeing the outstanding conditions for car-making at Zilina, it's easy enough to see where that confidence comes from - and the car itself is very convincing too. For the time being, the Golf has an edge in terms of its badge while the Focus probably remains the driver's choice in this category. And it's still hard to get past the combination of quality and value for money represented by the Skoda Octavia. But I think the Astra, 307, C4 and the like are all looking very vulnerable indeed to the Korean/Slovakian advance.

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