Hyundai will continue squeezing capacity out of its critical North American vehicle assembly plant as it presses for 1 million U.S. sales by 2025.
But Hyundai Motor North America CEO Jose Muñoz acknowledges that it has been a tough year for his dealers to get all the cars and trucks they want, either from South Korea or the company’s plant in Montgomery, Ala.
“All the plants in the group are being hit with a lot of uncertainty and then a short supply,” Muñoz said Thursday during an interview with Automotive News as part of its online Congress Conversations series. “We have not been able to maximize the capacity that we had available.”
But by comparison, he noted, “most of our competitors have to idle their plants and have lost way more production.”
The Alabama plant has production capacity of 400,000 vehicles a year.
Muñoz said Hyundai continues to assess its American plant capacity needs. He added that the company is listening closely to what the Biden administration says about new federal incentives for the electric vehicle industry.
“We are assessing and evaluating this particular case and the new Biden administration’s policies,” he said. “And I think that once we see a little bit more clarity on what the plans are in detail, we may have other considerations.”
For the time being, he said, Hyundai would be happy simply to get as many vehicles out of Alabama as the plant is built to produce.
The automaker just invested $400 million in the plant to add the redesigned Tucson to its production mission. That brings the plant to four key products — the Elantra and Sonata sedans, the Santa Fe crossover and now the Tucson crossover — in addition to production of all the engines to supply those models.
Still this year, the plant will add the Santa Cruz to its roster. The vehicle represents Hyundai’s first move toward U.S. pickup buyers, but the company has clarified that it intends to market the Santa Cruz as a crossover with a pickup bed, rather than as a pickup.
“We made the commitment to invest while all of this pandemic took place,” Muñoz noted. “This is going to be a great opportunity to enhance our overall opinion as a brand.
“The new launches are going to help a lot.”