We’ve written extensively about the Kia Optima and its capabilities on this blog. Today we’re going to look at where the Optima is made. This seems to be a straightforward question, but this car consists of many components (engine, transmission, tires, etc.) made in different parts of the world. Let’s start with a quick answer:
The current generation of the Kia Optima, manufactured from 2021 onwards, is assembled in West Point, Georgia, for the American market. It uses Smartstream engines made by Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama. Hyundai also makes the 7-speed and 8-speed DCT for the Optima here, whereas Kia makes the 6-speed and 8-speed automatic in West Point, Georgia.
However, that certainly doesn’t answer the question entirely. Below, we’ll first dive into detail about the assembly location. After, that we’ll give you the complete rundown of where the engines are made, and we’ll do the same for all transmissions used in this vehicle. Finally, we’ll talk about how to identify which tires you have and where they are manufactured precisely. Read on!
Also read: 8 Common Problems Of A Kia Optima Hybrid
Assembly Locations Per Generation
The first generation of the Kia Optima, which was sold between 2000 – 2006, was made at three different locations worldwide. The first location is in Kia’s home country of South Korea in Hawaseong. Another Kia facility that manufactured this generation was in Yancheng, China. Finally, Avtotor is a car assembler that also took on some work for this car, and they are located in Kaliningrad, Russia.
The second-generation (2006 – 2010) was assembled in Hawaseong, South Korea, and Kaliningrad, Russia. However, the Chinese facility was replaced by a Malaysian one in Gurun, where cars are assembled by a company named NAM.
For the third generation (2010 – 2015), Kia used the exact same facilities as for the first generation (South Korea, China, Russia), although they added two facilities. The most noticeable one was their only American facility in West Point, Georgia. This is where cars for the North American market were assembled. Another addition to the list was Oskemen, Kazahkstan.
The fourth-generation (2015 – 2020) used previously mentioned facilities in South Korea, China, the United States, Russia, Malaysia, and Kazahkstan. However, the car was also added to a facility in Batna, Algeria.
The fifth and current generation of the Kia Optima is assembled in West-Point, Georgia, for the American market. Other assembly locations include Hwaseong, South Korea, Yancheng, China, and Kaliningrad, Russia.
Just like the Kia Soul, the Kia Optima has exclusively made use of Hyundai engines throughout its lifetime. This is because Hyundai is officially the parent company of Kia. Therefore, Kia uses Hyundai engines, and Kia provides Hyundai with some transmissions or other parts whenever it’s convenient.
The first generation of the Kia Optima used Beta II, Sirius II, and Delta V6 engines. The Beta II engines were made in Ulsan, South Korea. The Delta V6 engines were made in Asan, South Korea, and Shandong, China. The Sirius II engine was licensed from Mitsubishi (most likely made by Mitsubishi too).
The second generation made use of a range of engines. The Theta and Theta II engines for the North American market were most likely made in Alabama, Montgomery, since Hyundai manufactured those engines in this location. The Delta V6 engine was made in Ulsan, South Korea. This is most likely also the case for the Mu engine that was a variant of the Delta V6 engine. The D series diesel engine used in this generation was also made in Ulsan, South Korea.
The third generation used Nu, Theta, Theta II, and U II (diesel) engines. We know that NU, Theta, and Theta II engines were made at the Montgomery location in Alabama for the American Market. The U II diesel engine was manufactured at the Žilina Kia factory in Žilina, Slovakia.
The fourth generation used the same engines as the third generation, so no surprises there. However, a Gamma II engine was added to the mix, also made in Montgomery, Alabama.
The fifth and current generation of the Optima exclusively uses Smartstream engines. These engines are manufactured at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Plant in Montgomery, Alabama. Hyundai has been manufacturing Smartstream engines at this plant since 2019 for their own Sonata and Sante Fe.
The transmissions are a tricky part to figure out for Kia. This is because they received transmissions from Hyundai for quite some time. They also started making their own 6-speed automatic transmissions in their Westpoint plant in Georgia in 2009/2010. As of the time of this writing, it also seems they make their own 8-speed automatic there now, too but more on that later.
The first generation of the Optima had a 5-speed manual, a 4-speed automatic, and a CVT. The second generation switched the CVT for a 5-speed automatic, but everything else stayed the same. Given that Kia didn’t make their transmissions at the time, it’s logical Hyundai would make these.
For the first generation, Hyundai made the transmissions in Ulsan, South Korea, since this was the primary plant-making transmission for the North American market. For the second generation, one would think transmissions were sourced from the Hyundai Alamaba plant in Montgomery. However, we know that the Kia Optima was still assembled in South Korea, making it more logical to assume that also the second generation made use of transmissions from the Ulsan plant in South Korea.
The third generation of the Optima was assembled in the United States and made use of a 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic. It’s safe to assume that the automatic was made in West Point, Georgia and that the manual was manufactured by Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama.
That pattern looks similar for the fourth generation: the 6-speed automatic was made by Kia in Georgia, and Hyundai made the 6-speed manual and 7-speed DCT in Alabama.
The fifth and current generation uses a 6-speed and 8-speed automatic made by Kia in West Point, Georgia. It also has a 7-speed and 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, most likely made by Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama.
It’s very difficult to identify what kind of tires come standard on a car. Not only because this changes regularly, but also because not a lot about this is documented. However, for the Optima, we found that many of them seem to use the Michelin Primacy MXM4.
Michelin has many, many factory locations worldwide, and it is possible that tires are made in a different location than the country in which they are sold. However, usually, a fair share of the tires is still made in the country itself (especially in the case of the USA).
Michelin has four locations in the USA where they manufacture passenger tires. These are as follows:
- Tuscaloosa, Alabama
- Ardmore, Oklahoma
- Greenville, South Carolina
- Lexington, South Carolina
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
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