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Published: Tuesday, 4/2/2002

Hyundai chooses Montgomery, Ala., for its first U.S. auto factory


MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Hyundai Motor Co., which considered locations in northwest and southern Ohio, has chosen Alabama as the site for its first U.S. auto manufacturing plant, its president said yesterday.

Hyundai Motor President Kim Dong-jin announced the company's decision after its board of directors met early in the morning at its Seoul headquarters.

"Our decision to build this facility in Montgomery, Ala., underscores our commitment to the U.S. market," said Mong Koo Chung, chairman of Hyundai Automotive Group. "American consumers have increasingly placed their trust in Hyundai automobiles, as witnessed by our track record of strong sales growth over the last several years."

In January, Ohio rolled out the red carpet for Hyundai executives, when Gov. Bob Taft led a tour of a potential site in Wapakoneta.

Hyundai's Mr. Kim and three executives toured the Auglaize County seat, a city of 10,000 people 90 miles south of Toledo, after visiting another Ohio site at Mount Orab, 30 miles east of Cincinnati.

A month later, Hyundai's president told Governor Taft that Ohio was out of the running.

Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman said he received a phone call shortly before 10 p.m. yesterday from the president of Hyundai telling him the plant would be built in Alabama. The plant, with some 2,000 employees, has been sought by city and state officials for months.

"This is a tribute to the people of Alabama that a renowned corporation like this would look to Alabama for a place to call home. It's a tribute to the state's world class workers," Mr. Siegelman said.

Glendale, Ky., and Montgomery had remained on Hyundai's final list of candidates for the $1 billion plant after it ruled out Mississippi and Ohio. The four states had been vying to host the Hyundai plant, which will hire 2,000 people and begin making cars in 2005.

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