The Korea Herald


Hyundai Motor kick-starts year at Korea’s first EV-only factory

Chung Euisun picks constant change, sustainable growth as key strategies to thrive amid uncertainties

By Moon Joon-hyun

Published : Jan. 3, 2024 - 16:47

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Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun delivers his New Year's address at Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong, Korea's first EV-only car plant, in Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. (Hyundai Motor Group) Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun delivers his New Year's address at Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong, Korea's first EV-only car plant, in Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. (Hyundai Motor Group)

Hyundai Motor Group kick-started the year with a New Year's address on Wednesday at Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong, South Korea’s first dedicated electric vehicle factory, with Executive Chair Chung Euisun and other top executives sharing the company's vision and commitment to electrification and future mobility.

The Hyundai chief reaffirmed the group's focus on "constant change" and "sustainable growth" as key strategies to thrive amid global uncertainties and intense industry competition. He emphasized the importance of the Gwangmyeong factory in spearheading Hyundai’s electrification journey, starting in Korea and expanding globally.

“Starting the year at Gwangmyeong, our first dedicated EV plant, is symbolic. We’re eagerly anticipating the waves of electrification innovation that will ripple from here to Ulsan, the US and beyond,” he said.

Plant 2 in Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong, a historic site in Korea's automotive industry since 1973 in Gyeonggi Province, is transitioning into a fully dedicated EV facility in the first half of this year. This transformation coincides with Kia's 80th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of its first passenger car, the T-600.

This shift represents a significant step in Hyundai Motor Group's strategy to become one of the top three global EV manufacturers by 2030. The factory is set to produce a more affordable lineup of two new EV models -- the compact crossover EV3 and the midsize sedan EV4 -- with an annual capacity of 150,000 units for both domestic and international markets.

Sustainable growth and social responsibility were also at the heart of Hyundai Motor Group's vision that Chung presented.

“Sustainability isn't just a buzzword for us; it's about survival. We're doubling down on carbon neutrality and the circular economy to grow sustainably alongside humanity,” he said.

This vision includes advancing a hydrogen ecosystem, promoting clean energy solutions, and spearheading recycling initiatives, especially for EV batteries. These initiatives align with the group's broader environmental commitments, targeting carbon neutrality by 2045.

Hyundai E&C, for instance, has been expanding its renewable energy trading business, while Hyundai-Kia is actively reducing carbon emissions in its manufacturing processes, partly by adopting solar power systems across its facilities.

In addition to environmental considerations, Chung emphasized not to lose sight of the fundamental role of product and service quality in winning customer trust.

“Quality is our cornerstone. It’s always about delivering more than expected,” Chung said.

Kia Motors Corp. CEO Song Ho-sung detailed the innovations at the Gwangmyeong EV plant, such as streamlining logistics through automated control systems and reducing carbon and hazardous emissions.

Worker-friendly measures are also a priority, he said, with the implementation of low-load and low-noise equipment to minimize physical strain and noise pollution. For pre-checking safety risks, Boston Dynamics' Spot robot will navigate through the plant, identifying potential hazards and ensuring safety protocols are maintained.

“Armed with such cutting-edge technologies, we anticipate AutoLand Gwangmyeong to be a key player in popularizing EVs, with our EV3 and EV4 models leading the charge,” said Song.

At the address, other executives like Shin Jae-won, head of the advanced air mobility division, discussed plans to launch its urban air mobility unit Supernal’s vehicles in the US market by 2028 and called attention to Supernal's upcoming showcase of its urban mobility vehicles at CES 2024 next week.

Head of the Global Strategy Office, Kim Heung-soo, expressed commitment to developing humanoid robots capable of real-time environmental adaptation for future adoption in factory sites, showing a video of Boston Dynamics' humanoid robot, Atlas, handing a work tool to a human.