Representatives of the Kia Atlanta South Dealership, in Morrow, were present in Atlanta Friday, when Kia Motors America announced the first retail sale of a 2011 Sorento, built at the Kia plant in West Point, Ga.
The vehicle's owner, Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy, took possession of the car during a ceremony held at the Chick-fil-A corporate headquarters, located at 5200 Buffington Rd., in Atlanta.
Cathy, a well-known car enthusiast and collector, special-ordered the Sorento in "Spicy Red," with all the amenities, including a panoramic sunroof, according to Chick-fil-A Spokesperson Brenda Green. "He went out for a plant tour, and from there he decided to buy it, to spur economic growth," said Green.
"While I am excited about adding this new Spicy Red Sorento to my collection of new and antique cars," Cathy said in a written statement, "I also am pleased to know that this manufacturing facility [West Point Kia plant] will help with the employment and economic growth in our region."
As Kia and Chick-fil-A employees looked on, Percy Vaughn, director of regional operations for Kia Motors America, presented Cathy with the keys to the new Sorento, cross-over, utility vehicle (CUV).
"People have already asked, Can I use it?'" said Cathy. "I said, you can look at it, but don't put your hands on it," Cathy joked to the crowd.
Jason Berry, business manager of Kia Atlanta South, said the Clayton County dealership played a role in presenting the vehicle to Cathy. "They [ the West Point plant] shipped it to us, and we delivered it to him," said Berry. "It was the very first Kia to roll off the assembly line, on a retail end," Berry said. "It's just great to get the Kia name out there," he added.
Berry explained that a CUV differs from an SUV, or sport utility vehicle, in that "the cross-over utility vehicle is more a car-like ride. It just gives a smoother ride to the passengers," he said. "The old-style SUV rides more like a truck."
Cathy has more than 100 cars in his antique-car collection, according to Green. About two dozen cars from the collection are on display in the massive lobby of the Chick-fil-A headquarters building.
"I got a Ford here that was made the year I was born," said the 88-year-old Cathy, during the ceremony. "And I've got the last Ford that came off the assembly line in Georgia, so I've got quite a collection," he said.
Green said Cathy had not yet decided how the new Kia will be used. "We don't know, yet. He said his wife may drive it," said Green.
According to Kia Spokesperson Amy Corsinita, in a written statement, the 2011 Kia Sorento was named the official vehicle of the 2009 Chick-fil-A Bowl, which was held on New Year's Eve in Atlanta.
Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc., located in West Point, is the first manufacturing site in North America for Kia Motors Corporation, which is based in Seoul, Korea, Green said.