First on the agenda of our flying visit to Kia’s South Korean headquarters was a look around the enormous plant at Hwasung, an hour’s drive south from Seoul.

Built in the late 1980s, the facility covers 3.2 million square metres, with just over one million square metres of buildings. 

There’s also a 2.5-mile high-speed test track and proving ground at the site, and a facility for putting together the knock-down kits which are shipped off to certain markets.

The plant is adjacent to the water where the Asanman Bay meets the sea. It is a heavily industrialised region, and a on a clear day it is possible to see a Hyundai Steel facility on the opposite side of the bay, about three miles away.

Hwasung is one of three production plants in Kia’s homeland, and 600,000 vehicles can be produced there each year. They’re destined for both the domestic market and export, with about 70 per cent of the cars built there exported to approximately 170 countries.

There are 15,000 employees working two shifts, and there are three production lines at the facility. The models produced there at the moment include the Sorento, Optima, Cadenza, Cerrato and Barrego.