Romano said Hyundai has had “a lot” of such conversations with the government.
And while Hyundai’s focus is on Georgia today, the US $5.5 billion plant, going up northwest of Savannah, is unlikely to produce enough vehicles to meet the government’s EV targets on its own, he added.
This need for a larger North American footprint could lead Hyundai to Canada, said Sam Fiorani, vice-president of global vehicle forecasting at US-based AutoForecast Solutions.
“Canada is now pushing for an EV future. It makes a lot of sense to piggyback off of the battery plants and the technology, and the good people who are there to provide R&D, to provide assembly work [and] to provide supplier parts.”
Fiorani forecasts Hyundai will need to add to its assembly ecosystem in North America in the early 2030s, and possibly sooner.
“They should have enough capacity for 2030, but it all depends on how quickly they can expand in this marketplace. Hyundai has done a great job of expanding over the last 30 to 35 years, and if it continues to grow like this, they will need more plants.”
But Canada is just one of many possible options for the automaker, Fiorani added. He expects Hyundai’s site to search to extend beyond its emerging EV hub in Georgia, which will soon include the new assembly plant and a nearby battery cell manufacturing joint venture with LG Energy Solution worth US $4.3 billion.
“When you establish a new plant, typically there’s an unemployment issue in the area and it’s easy to get workers. But once you start adding several thousand jobs [and] the suppliers add a few thousand more, labor becomes a little tight and the cost advantage of that labor diminishes quickly.”
Hyundai, meanwhile, is not unfamiliar with building vehicles in Canada, although its first effort proved a costly, albeit short-lived, misstep.
In 1989, a few years after the company entered the North American market, Hyundai spent about US $400 million to build its first assembly plant in the region. It chose Bromont, Que., about 100 kilometers east of Montreal. But the site was plagued with problems from the outset. It was idled in 1993 and permanently closed two years later.