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Driving It Home

Time for Hyundai to build in Canada Add to ...

Hyundai Motor needs more production capacity in North America and Hyundai Auto Canada had a record sales year in 2010. The logical conclusion is that Hyundai needs to build an assembly plant in Canada.

And yes, Hyundai has set in motion plans to build another plant. John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America CEO, said last week at the Detroit auto show that his company has no concrete plans for a second assembly plant, however.

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Nonetheless, Hyundai needs one. The company's lone plant in Montgomery, Alabama built 300,500 vehicles, mostly Sonata last year and now is running at full capacity. Krafcik said a second North American plant is needed and pretty much a foregone conclusion. The questions are when and where.

"If you look at the growth that we're going to have in our future and the fact that we have an overall philosophy of building where we sell, it's got to be somewhere out there," he told Automotive News.

Hyundai sold 118,507 vehicles in Canada last year and another 540,000 in the United States. The totals included about 200,000 Sonata mid-size cars.

Krafcik has said a lack of production capacity is holding back Hyundai's growth. The Alabama-built Sonata is a hot seller right now and there is good reason to think that same will hold true for the new Elantra compact, also now being built in the same facility. Meeting consumer demand is growing into a big problem for Hyundai.

The numbers: Hyundai's Canadian market share hit 7.6 per cent in 2010, up from 7.1 per cent in 2009. The brand's U.S. market share rose to 4.6 per cent from 4.2 per cent in 2009.

The sales and market share numbers say Hyundai needs to invest in Canada. Period. Honda builds almost everything it sells in Canada and one of every two Toyotas sold here is built in Canada, too. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler also have a significant manufacturing presence in Canada. Of the five top-selling auto companies, only Hyundai does NOT have a manufacturing facility in Canada.

It's time for Hyundai to step up and make an investment in building cars in Canada, not just selling them.

Hyundai no longer the butt of jokes

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T has with Hyundai’s first four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engine
Now all grown up and playing with the big boys, the South Korean auto maker is making bold statements

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