Kia Motors will open a $1 billion auto plant in northern Mexico in 2016, with the capacity to build 300,000 vehicles annually, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced Wednesday.
The factory will be built in the city of Pesqueria in the border state of Nuevo Leon.
"It is the first investment by the Korean auto industry in our country," Peña Nieto said, noting that parts of the country have enjoyed a boom in automotive production financed by U.S. and Japanese firms.
"We celebrate that KIA Motors has decided to join in the success story that we Mexicans are writing," he added.
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this story said that Kia would spend $1.5 billion to build its new factory. In fact, Kia will spend $1 billion, though investments from parts suppliers and others will add much more to the total financial impact.
Despite homicides, kidnappings and extortion of businesses that plague the country, Peña Nieto said Mexico is a good place to invest and predicted that the auto industry will be at the forefront of economic expansion.
Auto production grew 7.5% from January to July this year compared with the same period last year, and exports 11.2%, Peña Nieto said. The vast majority of cars produced in Mexico are exported, mostly to the U.S.
Brands like Honda, Mazda, Volkswagen, Nissan, General Motors and Ford all assemble vehicles in Mexico for the American market. In June, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan announced a joint $1.4-billion plant that would be online by 2017, and BMW revealed plans in July for a $1-billion plant.
Automakers have been lured to Mexico by an increasingly skilled workforce, lower wages than in the U.S., and favorable export rules. While Mexico currently accounts for 18% of North American automotive production, that figure is expected to rise to 25% by 2020, according to IHS Automotive.