Having turned out some 3,000 Hybrid Santa Fe SUVs last year, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama expects to have fully joined the electric vehicle revolution by the time you read this.
“Not only are we producing the first EV Genesis in North America, but we would now also be producing both brands, the Hyundai brand and the Genesis brand,” says Scott Posey, public affairs manager for HMMA in Montgomery.
Genesis is a luxury vehicle division of Hyundai. HMMA will be turning out the Genesis Electrified GV70, a new luxury SUV.
According to caranddriver.com, the Electrified GV70 will be the third all-electric model for the Genesis brand. The website quotes Genesis as saying the model features a fast-charging battery system that can go from 10% to 80% in less than 20 minutes at a public charging station.
Horsepower is estimated at 429, the website states. Zero-to-60 acceleration is estimated at 4.5 seconds.
The vehicle’s design is said to be much like the gasoline-powered version. Bells and whistles include a large widescreen “infotainment” display mounted on the dashboard with the latest version of the Genesis software interface.
Motortrend.com named the gasoline-powered version its 2022 SUV of the Year. “Considering our high regard for the gas-powered GV70 and the company’s other EVs, we’re eager to try it out,” it said of electric version.
Posey says the price had not yet been set, but Motortrend estimates the base price at $65,000, and notes that owners will save money by never needing gas or oil.
To make way for the addition of electric-powered vehicles to the existing lines turned out by HMMA, the Montgomery plant underwent a $300 million infrastructure expansion and upgrade last year. HMMA also added 200 employees, bringing the total workforce to 3,800.
Posey says HMMA also estimates it is responsible for between 1,400 and 1,450 indirect jobs in Alabama through suppliers and service providers. On top of that, Hyundai Mobis is building a new plant next door to make EV batteries for HMMA and its sister, Kia Motor Manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia.
The battery plant brings another investment of $205 million and 400 new jobs to Alabama. “The batteries currently are shipped to us from South Korea, but beginning in 2024 they’ll be Alabama-made,” Posey says.
“You can see how [with] an employer like HMMA moving into production of its first all-electric vehicle, the economic impacts are far larger than even the $300 million that we invested.”
With advanced manufacturing techniques in general requiring an ever more educated and trained skills set among employees, HMMA has worked to ensure that it will have the needed workforce in both the short- and long-term. To that end, it offers technical and leadership training in-house and supports next-generation education initiatives in local public schools.
Last year, HMMA produced 332,832 motor vehicles, including Sonatas, Elantras, Santa Fes, Tuscons, Santa Cruzes and Santa Fe Hybrids. Of those, 316,566 went to U.S. dealers. The rest, 16,266, were exported to countries including Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and El Salvador. More than half of the exports were gasoline-powered Santa Fe SUVs sent to Canada.
While HMMA continues to deal with supply chain challenges, particularly the international shortage of semiconductor chips, production has not been affected, Posey says. “While it is still a challenge for us to address, it hasn’t prevented us from producing the automobiles that we’ve been asked to produce.”
And the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer an issue.
“The excitement for this year is the beginning of production of the GV70, and the fact that we will now be officially a part of this growing EV revolution in Alabama.
“Of course, we’ve come out of the pandemic. Last year, we were still readapting the processes and the people back to some semblance of normalcy that we kind of all forgot about, that we had pre-pandemic,” Posey says.
Overall, Posey says, Hyundai is now the third largest automaker in the world.
Jane Nicholes is a Daphne-based freelance contributor to Business Alabama.
This article appears in the March 2023 issue of Business Alabama.