Hyundai gets smart and stylish in Czech facility
Neat patches of green grass, smartly arranged rectangular buildings and a general sense of tranquility make it hard to imagine that this 490-acre complex produces more than half of Hyundai Motor’s vehicles for the European market.
Located 290 kilometers (180 miles) east of Prague, Hyundai Motor’s Czech factory produces vehicles including the i30, i30 Wagon, Tucson and ix20, among others, acting as the core production base for Hyundai Motor Europe.
It is also home to Hyundai Motor’s high-performance N brand, a key project expected to be the carmaker’s future growth engine.
Hyundai started making the i30 N last year, and is now exporting the vehicle to more than 30 countries. In November, it will start manufacturing the i30 Fastback N, which was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show last week.
“The Czech plant is currently focusing on European strategic models and the high-performance N models,” said Yang Dong-hwan, head of the Hyundai Motor Czech factory.
“If market conditions allow, however, we are planning to make eco-friendly vehicles in the future.”
In fact, when a group of Korean press visited the site on Friday, a fully electric version of the Kona was visible inside the complex.
Since opening in 2008, a total of 2.75 million vehicles have rolled off the Nosovice production line, with the total figure expected to pass three million in the first half of next year. The operation rate hit 108.1 percent last year, coming in third among Hyundai Motor’s overseas plants, after Russia and Turkey.
The Czech plant contributed to an overall sales increase for Hyundai Motor in Europe as well. The company’s European sales grew from 300,000 vehicles in 2009 to 500,000 in 2016.
One of the factors boosting efficiency here is the installation of the so-called one-stop manufacturing process. From making steel plates and body frames to painting and assembly, the entire manufacturing process takes place on site. The venue even has logistics centers as well as a test drive course that covers 3.3 kilometers in total.
The exchange of core parts with Kia Motors’ nearby Slovakia plant, which makes engines, further boosts efficiency.
Hyundai Motor said the factory is equipped with a total of 367 robots for automation.
Upon entering one of the assembly lines on Friday, a string of robotic arms were welding different parts of the cars, like doors and bonnets, to the body.
“The plant is relatively new so the rate of automation here is very high,” said a Hyundai Motor official.
The factory is well equipped with rest areas with vending machines, coffee tables, chairs and even games facilities. Similar areas are rarely seen on similar press tours of auto factories in Korea.
To enhance the working environment, Hyundai Motor opened a medical center inside the complex. Preventive and treatment services are provided here through a miniature fitness center, medical services and rehab equipment under the guidance of specialists and therapists.
These efforts have been recognized by the local government as well. Hyundai Motor’s Czech factory has been awarded the employer of the year award by the country’s Labor Ministry for six consecutive years since 2013.
“At first, local residents weren’t so fond of a factory being built in their neighborhoods,” Yang said. “But now, the factory is not only beloved by local residents but has also become a highly credible employer. In fact, Hyundai Motor’s Czech factory ranks seventh when it comes to tax payments.”
BY JIN EUN-SOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]