Hyundai’s top U.S. executive on Tuesday suggested that the company is hoping to speed up construction at its $7.6 billion manufacturing complex near Savannah, Georgia, dubbed the “Metaplant.” The move is prompted by what the Hyundai Motor Group has called the inherent unfairness of the Inflation Recovery Act to companies relying on importing EVs and batteries.
That means EVs from the mass-production facility might start rolling out in fall 2024.
The Associated Press (via WABE) reported that news of the stepped-up timeline came in comments made by José Muñoz, Hyundai President and COO and CEO of Hyundai and Genesis Motor North America, at the announcement of a partnership between Hyundai and Georgia Tech for hydrogen-based research.
When the company first announced the plant last May it was planned to start making vehicles in the first half of 2025. Now, Muñoz says that the company is looking to pull the production start about three months earlier to September 2024, perhaps.
2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6
The Hyundai Group has said that up to 300,000 EVs annually will be made at the plant. While it’s unclear how many EV models the initial plan involves, Muñoz has suggested that in the near future the plant could be expanded to 500,000 units annually and five or six upcoming EV models.
Accompanying the plant is a new Hyundai-LG battery joint venture due to supply cells for the plant adjacent to it. In the past month, LG Energy Solution has boosted its investment in the facility by $2 billion, expanding the battery facility to cover all 300,000 EVs to be produced there.
“We would like to ensure that the sourcing of the batteries is 100% USA in order to comply with the IRA,” Muñoz said, as quoted by the AP. That would likely help qualify vehicles made there for the full $7,500 EV tax credit, although there are other supply chain hoops Hyundai would need to verify with the federal government.
Hyundai Seven concept - 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show
Hyundai hasn’t yet announced which vehicles will be built at the plant, but one likely first model is the Ioniq 7, previewed by the Seven concept.
The plant is relatively close to the Port of Savannah—the second-largest container port on the East Coast—which might ease some of the logistics around exports. The Hyundai Group earlier this year announced a global target to sell 3.23 million fully electric vehicles per year by 2030, so the plant may be one of the largest facilities adding into that total.
2024 Kia EV9
Kia EVs are also set to be made starting in the first half of 2024 at the upcoming Hyundai plant, in addition to Kia’s own West Point, Georgia, plant that will soon ramp up to build the EV9 electric SUV, in addition to several other top-selling models for the brand.
The Hyundai Group also started building its first EV in North America earlier this year—the Genesis Electrified GV70. That’s at a facility in Alabama.