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Automobiles

Hyundai Motor’s Alabama plant: World’s second most productive

Hyundai aims to turn the US plant into its primary EV and future car manufacturing base for local sales

By Jan 11, 2022 (Gmt+09:00)

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama

Hyundai Motor Co.'s US manufacturing plant in Montgomery, Alabama is the world’s second most productive assembly plant, contributing to the South Korean automaker’s record sales in the North American market last year.

According to a recent report by automotive consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the PSA Group, legally known as Peugeot S.A., saw its Sochaux plant in France rank first in terms of productivity in 2021. Hyundai Motor’s Alabama plant came in second, moving up two notches from fourth place in 2020.

Among car assembly plants in North America, the Hyundai assembly plant has been the most productive since 2016.

Oliver Wyman rated global automakers’ productivity based on labor hours per vehicle.

At Hyundai’s Alabama plant, it took 24.02 hours to fully assemble a vehicle, more productive than 28.71 hours at General Motor’s Fairfax plant, 29.99 hours at GM’s Lansing Delta assembly plant, and 31.92 hours at Toyota Motor’s Georgetown plant, according to the consulting firm.

Hyundai celebrates its 5 millionth vehicle, a Santa Cruz, built at its assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama
Hyundai celebrates its 5 millionth vehicle, a Santa Cruz, built at its assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama

The report is closely watched by the industry since improved productivity frees up money that can be plowed back into vehicle development and improved value.

Hyundai’s US plant is also more productive than its main Korean manufacturing plant in Ulsan in terms of units produced per hour.

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama LLC (HMMA) produces 68 cars an hour, compared with 45 cars at Hyundai’s Ulsan plant, according to the auto industry.

HMMA, BASE FOR EVs, FUTURE CARS

HMMA, Hyundai’s first assembly and manufacturing plant in the US, was established in 2005 with $1.1 billion in investment.

With some 3,100 workers and an annual production capacity of 370,000 cars, the plant assembles Sonata and Elantra sedans, Santa Fe and Tucson SUVs, and the Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle.

As SUVs were gaining popularity in the US market, Hyundai decided to make the Tucson SUV for US sales at the Alabama plant in February of 2021, instead of importing the vehicle from Korea.

As a result, Tucson’s US sales increased 22% to 151,000 units last year from 123,700 units in 2020.

Hyundai celebrates 5 million vehicles produced at its Alabama manufacturing plant
Hyundai celebrates 5 million vehicles produced at its Alabama manufacturing plant

In August of last year, the company said it surpassed the 5 million production mark at the Alabama plant since it began operations in May 2005.

Hyundai Motor said the Alabama plant will become the main base for the production of its electric vehicles for sales in the US.

The company aims to sell half of its cars in the US with eco-friendly models by 2030, increasing sales of electric vehicles in the world’s second-largest auto market.

In May 2021, Hyundai Motor Group said it will pump $7.4 billion into its US operations by 2025, with its focus on future mobility segments, including electric vehicles, urban air mobility, autonomous driving and robotics.

Write to Il-Gue Kim at Black0419@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.
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