ATLANTA (AP) – South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Group is expected to announce next week the construction of a massive electric car plant near Savannah, Georgia, according to a U.S. official familiar with the expected announcement.
Hyundai is finalizing those plans as President Joe Biden travels to South Korea next week as part of his first visit to Asia during his presidency.
The White House and Hyundai have discussed a project that is expected to provide thousands of new jobs in Georgia, and the official announcement is likely during Biden’s scheduled May 20-21 visit to Seoul, an official who was not authorized said. comment and speak on condition of anonymity.
The official stressed that the details of the official statement are still being worked out.
The plant can grow to 8,500 employees and will be built on a 2,200-acre (890-hectare) site owned by state and local governments near the village of Elabel, Georgia, said two people familiar with Georgia’s talks with Hyundai. The place is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Savannah. The second person said that Hyundai is investing more than $ 7 billion and could also build several cars with gasoline engines on the site, with the announcement in Georgia scheduled for May 20. People spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential talks.
It will be the second huge electric car plant announced in Georgia in less than a year. In December, Rivian Automotive announced it would build a $ 5 billion electric truck plant and 7,500 jobs approximately 45 miles (70 kilometers) east of Atlanta.
“Hyundai Motor Group is looking to speed up electrification in the United States,” said spokeswoman Michelle Tinson. “We will soon announce the location of our new U.S. transportation plant.”
Biden is heading to South Korea and Japan for talks with the leaders of the two countries. During this trip, he will also meet with the leaders of the Indo-Pacific Strategic Alliance from the US, known as the Quadration: Australia, India and Japan.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yol, who took office earlier this week, has vowed to strengthen ties between the United States and South Korea during his campaign.
U.S. Senator Rafael Warnock, a Democrat from Georgia, met with Kia representatives on Tuesday. “I regularly tell business leaders: Georgia is open to business,” Warnock said, not to mention the possibility of a plant.
Hyundai’s interest in Georgia was first reported by Reuters, while The Atlanta Journal-Constitution initially reported on the plan’s announcement. The company sells cars under the Hyundai and Kia brands.
The announcement will appear in the last days before the primary elections in Georgia on May 24 and may become a last-minute incentive for Governor Brian Kemp. The incumbent Republican president is leading in polls in his efforts to keep former U.S. Sen. David Purdue and others challenged at Republican primaries. Purdue has repeatedly attacked the Rivian deal, in which Georgia and local authorities promised $ 1.5 billion in benefits and tax breaks, saying the state was transferring money to liberal financiers and had to consult with locals against the plant, so that it threatens their rural quality. of life.
The South Korean automaker will add a third U.S. assembly plant to Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama, and Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia. It is unclear what models will be assembled at the new plant in Georgia. Hyundai has announced plans to invest $ 7.4 billion in the U.S. by 2025 in electric vehicle production, plant modernization and technology development. The company plans to begin production of hybrid and electric vehicles at its Montgomery plant by the fall of this year, investing $ 300 million.
Kemp has established ties with the Korean automaker as part of efforts to secure jobs in some areas of Georgia outside of Atlanta and strengthen Georgia’s position in the electric car industry. South Korean conglomerate SK Group is building a $ 2.6 billion complex to produce batteries for electric vehicles in Commerce, northeast of Atlanta.
“There was a reason why I made my first economic development trip to South Korea and visited such wonderful companies as Kia and Hyundai and many others. We have a great partnership with them and many other South Korean companies, and we have had this for a long time. ”
The agreement will strengthen Georgia’s efforts to capture much of the electric car industry. Pat Wilson, Georgia’s commissioner for economic development, said in December after Georgia landed from Rivian that the transition to the industry was “the initial field of opportunity” for Georgia.
“I look forward to seeing a huge number of opportunities for us,” Wilson said.
In July last year, Georgia purchased a plot of more than 2,200 acres (890 hectares) for $ 61 million, with Brian and Chatham counties receiving $ 9 million each.
Madhani reported from Washington. Associated Press automotive writer Tom Crischer contributed from Detroit and writer Ras Baynum from Savannah, Georgia.
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