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Planned Precision

How Hyundai went from project announcement to completion
in 26 months – and what that means for the future of Alabama.

Hyundai's almost complete Montgomery complex.
Hyundai's almost complete complex in Montgomery is already home to 304 team members. Trial production of the next-generation Hyundai Sonata begins in July 2004. The payroll is projected to reach 1,000 in 2005.



ow precise is Hyundai? When someone asked a Hyundai executive last September when the first of two 5,400-ton stamping presses would be delivered to the new plant in Montgomery, Ala., the executive answered, without batting an eye, "March 15, 2004."
        That stamping press – one of the largest ever built – arrived at the Montgomery plant right on schedule, just as the Hyundai executive said it would, on March 15.
        That fact may seem insignificant to the outside observer, but to Hyundai, this right-on-time delivery of a key piece of machinery is part of a global strategic plan in which every detail counts.
        The company stated that it wants to be one of the five largest automakers in the world by 2010. To that end, it scripted every phase of its growth from now until the end of the decade.
        Miss one deadline, and, according to Hyundai executives, you might as well miss them all.
        No one's missing deadlines in Montgomery. At the site of the largest single automotive manufacturing investment ever undertaken by an international company in the United States, everything is progressing according to plan.
Yang-Soo Kim
Yang-Soo Kim

        "Hyundai and Montgomery have gone through a lot together since our company announced its coming to Alabama on April 2, 2002," Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) President Yang-Soo Kim said in February 2004. "On land that was once a cow pasture today grows 2 mil lion square feet [185,800 sq. m.] of automotive excellence."
        How Hyundai went from blank slate to near completion of a US$1-billion factory is a story in unparalleled corporate precision, from concept to strategy to execution.
        "Through all of your efforts," Kim told a group of state and local officials and Hyundai employees, "HMMA is on schedule and will begin test production of vehicles in less than four months."
        "On schedule" is a phrase heard a lot at the sprawling manufacturing complex on the south side of Alabama's capital city. From the tractor-trailer rigs delivering huge pieces of equipment every day to the 600 construction workers assembling those pieces, the dream of an upstart Korean company is becoming a reality in the Deep South.
        "Construction is 85-percent complete and will be finished in June," Kim said. "Thanks to our contractors, including the 73 percent from Alabama, we remain on schedule. In May, we will move the rest of our team members to the plant, and we will all be in our new home together."
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