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Kia commits $1M to UGA’s initiative on e-mobility

By Lillian Ballance/UGA Today

The University of Georgia is bolstering its position as a leader in the advancement of electric mobility for Georgia and its citizens thanks to a $1 million gift from Kia to the UGA College of Engineering and the Georgia Network for Electric Mobility. 

“The University of Georgia is thrilled to partner with Kia on our electric mobility initiative,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “We are grateful for their support of UGA’s broad efforts to advance this technology, help our students become leaders in this emerging field and create new opportunities to strengthen Georgia’s economy.” 

The million-dollar commitment will provide endowed support for undergraduate scholarships, graduate research fellowships, community engagement programs and experiential learning opportunities — such as co-ops, internships and capstone projects — related to e-mobility for students in the College of Engineering.

Stuart Countess, president and CEO of Kia Georgia Inc., (back row, third from right) and April Bartley, external affairs manager for Kia Georgia Inc., (front row, far right) met with UGA Engineering students during the 2024 UGA Electric Mobility Summit at the Classic Center in Athens. (Photo by Lillian Ballance)

Kia’s gift also supports the Georgia Network for Electric Mobility (GNEM). Established by the University of Georgia in early 2023, the network focuses on enhancing research, education and outreach opportunities in e-mobility across the state.  

GNEM brings together industry, academia, government and communities to aid workforce development, economic development and research, taking special care to involve rural and underserved communities and small businesses.  

“Kia is committed to the e-mobility initiatives of the future that promote sustainable transportation solutions in Georgia and across the nation,” said Kia North America President and CEO Sean Yoon. “Whether supporting students or other GNEM projects, Kia is proud to work with the University of Georgia’s College of Engineering and the GNEM program.”  

In 2009, Kia established a state-of-the-art production facility in West Point, Georgia. Since then, Kia Georgia has helped create more than 14,000 jobs and produced more than 4.2 million vehicles. Soon one of the vehicles produced at the West Point facility will be Kia’s all-electric vehicle, the EV9. 

“As Kia Georgia moves into a new era of electric vehicles and the mobility solutions of tomorrow, programs like GNEM are both timely and critical in establishing a cohesive strategy for development and implementation of new initiatives within the state of Georgia,” said Kia Georgia President and CEO Stuart Countess. “We are confident in the University of Georgia’s forward-thinking vision and are honored to be recognized as a founding partner.”  

As a founding partner of GNEM, Kia is providing support in perpetuity for the educational pursuits, research productivity and experiential learning efforts of students interested in a career in the field of electric mobility. This support expands GNEM’s impact on rural and underserved communities, aligning with UGA’s land-grant mission to serve all populations within Georgia. 

“Kia’s generous support is a testament to the power of collaboration between industry and academia,” said College of Engineering Dean Donald Leo. “We offer our sincerest thanks for their commitment to electric mobility in Georgia.” 

Kia was a premier sponsor of the University of Georgia’s third annual Electric Mobility Summit, which took place April 23-24 and focused on the adoption of electric mobility in the state, educational programs to support the demands of this growth industry, and the future of electric mobility in Georgia and beyond. 

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