LG Electronics opens U.S. factory

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LG Electronics opens U.S. factory

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An employee on the assembly line at the new LG Electronics washing machine factory in Clarksville, Tennessee, on Thursday. The new plant will employ 6,000 people and is capable of producing 1.2 million high-end top-load and front-load washing machines per year. [LG ELECTRONICS]

LG Electronics has completed its first washing machine factory in the United States, the largest home appliance market in the world.

The electronics company held an opening ceremony for its new “smart” washing machine plant in Clarksville, Tennessee, on Thursday and celebrated its inaugural production of home appliances in the United States.

The ceremony was attended by Tennessee Rep. Mark Green, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Song Dae-hyun, the president of the home appliance division at LG Electronics.

“By stably managing the new factory, we will construct a powerful market dominance and sustainable growth structure,” Song said in a statement.

The 77,000-square-meter (828,821-square-foot) Tennessee plant will employ 600 employees and is capable of producing 1.2 million high-end top-load and front-load washing machines a year.

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From left: Tennessee Rep. Mark Green; Cho Ju-wan, head of the U.S. division of LG Electronics; Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee; Song Dae-hyun, the president of the home appliance division at LG Electronics; and Kim Young-jun, Korean consul general. [LG ELECTRONICS]

According to LG Electronics, the new plant is equipped with “cutting-edge” technology. Smart-factory robots will supply parts and undertake packaging. One washing machine will be assembled every 10 seconds.

J.D. Power ranked top-load washing machines made by LG Electronics as the highest in customer satisfaction in 2017 and 2018. It cites their ease of use, performance, price-efficiency and warranty.

Although the opening ceremony was held Thursday, LG Electronics has been manufacturing washing machines at the $360 million factory since December last year, six months earlier than planned, to defend against safeguard measures imposed by the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump levied safeguard tariffs of 20 percent on imported washing machines in February last year, which prompted many Korean companies to find ways to minimize the impact of the measures and increase U.S. production.

LG Electronics started construction of the Tennessee plant in August 2017.

The electronics maker is also going to shift manufacturing capacity currently in Thailand and Vietnam to the new U.S. washing machine plant, which will become one of its most important production bases for the company.

LG Electronics has been looking to increase its presence in the United States and has contemplated new manufacturing in the country for a number of years.

The company is already producing battery packs for electric vehicles in Hazel Park, Michigan, and solar panels in Huntsville, Alabama. A number of LG Group affiliates, including LG Electronics, are expected to move into a new North America headquarters building.

Located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, it is projected to be completed at the end of this year.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]

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