Hyundai Motor Co. plans to announce next week that it will build a new electric-vehicle assembly plant in southern Georgia, according to a person familiar with the matter, the latest automotive win for the state.
The project will create about 8,000 new jobs, said the person, who asked not to be identified ahead of a pending announcement. The plant is part of the $7.4 billion the South Korean automaker pledged in 2021 to invest in the US. An announcement, planned for Friday, May 20, will coincide with President Joe Biden’s trip to South Korea and occur four days before the Georgia gubernatorial primary.
President Biden plans to visit Seoul for two days during a four-day trip to both South Korea and Japan. The White House has yet to announce his schedule and had no immediate comment Thursday on Hyundai’s plans.
Hyundai sales in the US have increased since the company transformed its fleet to meet Americans’ demand for SUVs. It set a US retail sales record in the first quarter after increasing deliveries nearly 20% in 2021. The company said in April it will spend $300 million to expand its assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama, to make a hybrid version of the Santa Fe crossover and an EV for its luxury Genesis brand, the GV70, this fall.
The Alabama plant, which currently has an annual capacity of 390,000 vehicles, already makes the Sonata and Elantra sedans, a combustion engine Santa Fe SUV, and the Santa Cruz compact pickup truck.
Hyundai Motor Group, which owns both the Hyundai and Kia car brands, pledged in 2021 to invest billions in the US by 2025, a commitment that covers EV plants, hydrogen refueling stations and unmanned flying taxis.
The announcement would come just days before a closely watched Republican gubernatorial primary on May 24 in Georgia, pitting incumbent Brian Kemp against David Perdue, who is backed by former President Donald Trump.
States have been doling out rich incentives to win electric-vehicle projects as the US auto industry races to build a domestic EV supply chain and curb emissions. Earlier this month, Georgia gave electric upstart Rivian Automotive Inc. a $1.5 billion package of state and local incentives to build a new $5 billion assembly plant about 45 minutes east of Atlanta.
Kemp has touted his success luring jobs to the state as part of his re-election bid. Perdue, a former US senator from the state, has sided with local activists complaining about the Rivian plant.
The Peach State has been racking up automotive wins after being passed over by multiple Asian and European automakers in the past. Besides the planned Rivian and Hyundai plants, South Korean battery maker SK Innovation has constructed a $2.6 billion factory in east Georgia to make power sources for electric vehicles, including Ford’s F-150 Lightning pickup. There’s also a Kia Motors facility in West Point, near the Alabama border. –Bloomberg