Robotic machines weld bodies of cars in Kia Motors Corp.’s factory in Zilina, 200 kilometres north of Bratislava, Slovakia, on Oct. 3, 2012. Carmakers that cut costs last decade in Western Europe like Volkswagen AG, or those who were never saddled with expensive factories there, such as Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia, are now investing in new designs, conquering new markets and ramping up production, especially in Eastern Europe. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
Workers check the chassis of a car in Kia’s factory in Zilina. Between them, VW Group, Mercedes, Kia and Hyundai have raised their share of the European market to 35.5 per cent in the eight months to end August 2012, from 30 per cent in the same period of 2010. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
Workers assemble cars in the Kia factory in Zilina. Up the road in the foothills of Slovakia’s Fatra mountains, the most modern factory owned by Korean car maker Kia looks set to beat its production goal of 285,000 SUVs, compact and family cars. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
A photo shows the logo of a Kia car in the Zilina factory. Slovakia and the Czech Republic are now the world’s top two producers of cars per capita. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
A worker selects parts to assemble a car in Kia’s Zilina factory. Factories in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia are also big players in the region, which produced 3.24 million passenger cars in 2011, more than a fifth of the European Union total. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
Workers check the chassis of a Kia car in Zilina. Including the hundreds of assembly plants supplying parts such as windshields and tires, the automotive sector employs more than 360,000 people across the region. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
A worker checks the interior of a Kia in Zilina. Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia and some other plants have also capitalized on robust local supply chains that provide up to 70 per cent of the parts that make the cars. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
Workers assemble Kia cars in Zilina. Kia has an accompanying plant that produces engines for both itself and Hyundai, which returns the favour with transmissions. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
A worker walks through a parking lot of cars ready for shipping, outside Kia’s factory in Zilina. The Korean car makers Hyundai and Kia say their low-cost SUVs are perfect products for the world’s least developed – and fastest growing – regions, such as Africa. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
A worker loads Kia cars onto trucks at its factory in Zilina. (PETR JOSEK/REUTERS)
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