Hyundai May Shift Santa Fe Production to Kia U.S. Plant
Hyundai’s only U.S. plant is located in Montgomery, Alabama, and produces Santa Fe and Sonata models. Late last year, Kia opened its own U.S. factory 80 miles away, in West Point, Georgia.
A spokesman for the Hyundai plant said the plan is evaluated in South Korea „as a way to get the most efficiency out of the two plants”. In April, Hyundai retailers sold 18,536 U.S.-built Sonatas and 5,917 Santa Fe SUVs. That is near the factory's monthly production capacity, and the plant has been running 10-hour shifts, plus Saturday shifts. April sales for the brand were up 30 percent over April 2009.
On the other hand, Kia's U.S. plant produces the Sorento SUV, which shares some components and U.S. suppliers with the Santa Fe. The Sorento is also in demand. The Georgia plant has produced more than 50,000 Sorentos since opening less than six months ago.
Kia and Hyundai remain competitors despite being commonly owned by the Hyundai Group. Until recently, their products were produced in separate plants despite some sharing of common components on their global platforms.
Early this year, a Kia factory in Slovakia began producing the European version of the Hyundai Tucson. Kia modeled its Georgia plant closely after the Slovakian factory.
About 50 miles away in the Czech Republic, a Hyundai plant opened in 2009 to produce both the Hyundai i30 and Kia Venga small cars. Both U.S. plants were built to produce 300,000 vehicles a year.