Hyundai to build first dedicated EV plant in Ga.; 6 models said to be in works


ELLABELL, Ga. — Hyundai Motor Group — solidly No. 2 in the U.S. electric vehicle market in the first quarter — will plow $5.5 billion into its first dedicated EV factory in the U.S., the South Korean automaker said Friday.

The plant, about 30 miles northwest of Savannah, Ga., is a cornerstone of Hyundai’s long-term investment in electric vehicles, and would make it the first Asian automaker to commit a North American plant exclusively to EV output.

According to a supply chain industry source who asked not to be identified, Hyundai is targeting the production of up to six EV models at the new plant by the end of 2028. 

The factory is expected to launch with the Hyundai Ioniq 7 in 2025. The source said that the production of a Kia EV pickup could begin in the first half of 2026, followed by a Hyundai brand compact EV pickup in the second half. Genesis EV output is also planned.

This new factory represents “the future of our business,” Hyundai Motor Co. CEO Jaehoon Chang told an audience gathered here. “You will help us to meet growing demands of our U.S. customers.”

The Hyundai group — maker of the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands — has pledged $16 billion globally through 2030 for EVs. Kia Corp. has earmarked about half of its five-year, $22 billion investment budget to future projects, such as EVs.

The U.S. “has always held an important place in the group’s global strategy,” noted Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung.

The group is targeting annual sales of more than 3 million EVs globally by 2030. The Hyundai and Genesis brands are developing 17 battery-electric models globally by 2030, and Kia plans a lineup of 14 EVs by 2027.

In the U.S., Hyundai sells the Kona Electric and Ioniq 5 crossovers, Kia sells the Niro EV and EV6 crossovers, and Genesis just launched the GV60, which shares a dedicated EV platform with the Ioniq 5 and EV6. By next year, Hyundai will add an electric sedan, Kia will launch a three-row electric crossover, and Genesis will add electric versions of the G80 sedan and GV70 crossover.

Hyundai did not say which models would be built at the new factory, but the automaker seeks to source more EVs in the critical North American market. In its press release the company said it will produce a “wide range of innovative EV models” there.

“We believe it is a perfect moment to think about increasing our capacity in the U.S. and to focus on what we believe is not only the future but already the present, which is EV,” Jose Muñoz, global COO of Hyundai Motor Co. and CEO of Hyundai Motor North America, told Automotive News this month.

With its production expansion, the Hyundai group is doubling down in the Southeast.

Hyundai has an assembly plant in Alabama and Kia has one in west Georgia that make gasoline-powered vehicles.

Construction on the EV factory will begin early next year, with commercial production scheduled to start in the first half of 2025. The factory will create 8,100 jobs and have the capacity to crank out 300,000 EVs annually.

The proposed plant will be located on a 2,923-acre “megasite” near the Port of Savannah that Georgia previously marketed to Volvo.

Hyundai declined to identify the factory’s battery supplier, but South Korea’s SK Innovation operates a $2.5 billion battery manufacturing plant in north Georgia. Hyundai and Kia already use SK Innovation batteries in some of their vehicles.

The Hyundai group’s U.S. investments total $7.4 billion by 2025, including $300 million at the Alabama plant to make the Electrified GV70 crossover and a hybrid version of the Santa Fe midsize crossover, the company has said.

Georgia for years has been the proverbial bridesmaid, often a short list favorite for auto assembly plants but invariably losing out to neighbors.

But in 2022, the Peach State is very much the bride.

Hyundai’s new investment will be Georgia’s most significant economic development project — beating out another sprawling auto factory project for that title.

Nearly six months ago, the state lured Rivian Automotive to put a $5 billion assembly plant near Atlanta and create 7,500 jobs with a hefty $1.5 billion in incentives.

It’s an indication of how serious Georgia economic development officials have gotten about landing the next generation of auto assembly plants.

“A lot of the ecosystem needed to support electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles is in Georgia,” Scott McMurray, former deputy commissioner of global commerce for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, told Automotive News earlier. “Software development, fintech and cybersecurity firms in metro Atlanta are … targeting the auto industry.”

Georgia’s success in recruiting SK Innovation a few years ago is paying dividends.

“Electric vehicles are all about the battery,” McMurray said. “That’s why we’ll see the OEMs for the electric vehicles also looking here to take advantage of the ecosystem of suppliers that we are beginning to create here in Georgia.”