As Detroit's Big 3 see sales figures plummet, closing factories and design centers has become a nearly monthly event. Kia's U.S. operations, however, haven't felt the punishing blows of high fuel prices and a weak economy as keenly, thanks in part to the company's relatively small and fuel-efficient line of cars. Things are going so well, in fact, that the company has just opened a new U.S. headquarters and cutting-edge design center in Irvine, California.

The 239,000 square-foot headquarters facility has been in the works for some time but is now fully complete, currently operating with a staff of 400 employees, but with the potential to provide working quarters for as many as 600. The campus houses the company's North American sales, marketing, public relations, consumer affairs,

technical service, research and development, product planning and

administration departments.

The design center is a 107,000 square-foot location with a great amount of flexibility and room to allow the design team to work creatively. A modeling workshop that can accomodate as many as 8 vehicles simultaneously, a design studio a full selection of metal and woodworking shops and equipment, plus a 3D presentation room and a secure underground garage for top-secret prototype storage mark the design center as a hub for the company's creative process.

A new Spectra successor, dubbed the Forte and based on the KOUP concept (pictured), is currently being teased ahead of its expected reveal in Korea on August 21st, to be followed by an appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October.