Hyundai Motor Group broke ground Tuesday on Metaplant America, the electric vehicle and battery plant under construction in Bryan County. The automaker is investing $5.5 billion in its first EV plant in the United States.
Dozens of Hyundai officials, including Executive Chair Euisun Chung, traveled to Savannah for the ceremony. Site preparation began on the 11-building, 16 million-square-foot facility this summer, and much of the 3,000-acre site has already been cleared and graded. Hyundai projects a 2025 opening.
According to Hyundai's North American Division President José Muñoz, the plant will be the "foundation of Hyundai Motor Group's future in North America" as the automaker aims to "lead the future of electrified mobility."
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"At Hyundai Motor Group, our corporate mission is 'Progress for humanity.' Looking around I know we picked the right site, the right partners and the right state for progress," Chung said. "Together we will make the new Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America the envy of the industry."
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter were on hand, as were dozens of other state and local dignitaries.
"Even in Georgia, where we seem to make history every day, this project is monumental," Kemp said. "We're always working toward the future, and this project is significant."
The groundbreaking comes five months after Hyundai officials announced the facility. Trip Tollison, president of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, said the deal is “God’s handiwork.”
Tollison described the deal as an incredible feat as it took months to complete what normally takes two years or more. Hyundai projects a workforce of 8,100, not including indirect jobs with suppliers and other ancillary employers tied to the plant.
He described the agreement as an incredible feat as it took just several months to complete what normally takes one and a half to two years. Tollison said the event marked a new chapter of progress and one that made completion of the plant feel “more real than ever”
“It’s a ceremonial symbolic day that captures all of our hard work,” said Tollison. “We have a ton of work to do but I think local officials are happy with the progress.”
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Hyundai did not reveal what vehicle models it plans to make at the Savannah plant. The automaker currently produces two EV models but has announced plans for eight more before the end of this decade.
Hyundai is expected to pay wages "very competitive with others in the advanced manufacturing market," according to Savannah-area economic development officials. The average annual salary in the industry locally is $58,105, not including benefits.
Gov. Kemp harped on the state’s strong workforce and their commitment to bringing quality jobs. “The auto industry will see more change in the next ten years than in the last 100. Thanks to Hyundai, that future is going to be made right here," he said.
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But Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said he is concerned about where the workforce will come from and wants to partner with local colleges to ensure those positions get filled.
“I want to make sure we have the workforce to take advantage of these opportunities,” said Johnson. “8,100 jobs could from inside or outside our communities. I’m asking what skills are needed now for these jobs because we can’t wait until 2025 to get started on that.”
Jose Munoz, president and CEO of Hyundai North America, said residents in Bryan County will have their full commitment to provide resources — and a little bit of fun too. “Here we are five months later, ready to break ground and start construction. This is going to be a massive operation. We are excted to be your neighbor and partner.”
Tae-yong Cho, ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the U.S., said both countries are the perfect duo to do business together.
“It’s great to be in Georgia,” said Cho. “This is a great occasion for the U.S. and Korea. Today the Korean auto industry embarks on a new journey of climate consciousness. Georgia is a state that embodies the spirit of economics.”
Euisun Chung, executive chair of Hyundai Motor Group, said the company’s focus is progress for humanity and they chose the right state for it.
“Earlier this year I was not able to make it here, but this is simply incredible,” said Chung. “Together we will make Metaplant America the envy of the industry.”
Latrice Williams is a general assignment reporter covering Bryan and Effingham County. She can be reached at email@example.com. Adam Van Brimmer contributed to this story.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Hyundai Motor breaks ground on EV plant in Bryan County Georgia