Hyundai's first U.S.-made EVs to start rolling off line in October
The announcement comes despite heavy resistance from the automaker's labor union to the manufacturing of EVs in the United States.
Production of the Santa Fe Hybrid will begin in Alabama in October. The Electrified GV70 will be manufactured there from December.
Hyundai Motor has mentioned the making of EVs in the U.S. since last year, but this is the first time the automaker disclosed specific models and timelines.
The carmaker also announced Tuesday it is investing $300 million into the Alabama factory to update the existing assembly line and build additional storage space. The investment will create 200 new jobs, according to the carmaker.
Five models are manufactured at the factory: the Sonata, the Santa Fe, the Tucson, the Avante — locally known as the Elantra — and the Santa Cruz.
"Hyundai Motor Company is taking its first steps toward bringing electric vehicle production to the United States," according to Ernie Kim, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.
Despite the United States being the world's third largest EV market and providing hefty tax incentives for locally-made EVs, Hyundai Motor has been delaying the manufacturing of EVs at the U.S. factory due to strong opposition from its Korean labor union.
When Hyundai Motor Group announced 8.1 trillion won ($6.6 billion) in U.S. investment last year to produce locally made EVs and develop other future mobility businesses, such as self-driving cars and robotics, its Korean labor union strongly protested.
The union at the time said the investment in the U.S. is a gesture that "ignores Hyundai Motor's 50,000 unionized workers."
"Instead of expanding overseas factories, it is time to invest in domestic factories to improve quality," the union said in a statement at the time.
Hyundai Motor said Wednesday the latest announcement doesn't include establishing an entirely new assembly line at the Alabama plant, but instead is just an updating of the existing lines.
The Electrified GV70 and the Santa Fe Hybrid made at the Alabama factory will be distributed in the U.S. market, the automaker added.
Hyundai Motor's labor union was not informed ahead of time about the investment.
"We weren't notified there will be an official announcement regarding investment and production in the United States," a spokesman for the union said Wednesday. "We are discussing the issue internally at the moment."
Hyundai Motor aims to grab 11 percent of the U.S. EV market by 2030.
Kia last year hinted at the possibility of manufacturing EVs at its West Point, Georgia plant, but the automaker hasn't disclosed details yet.
BY JIN EUN-SOO [email@example.com]