Hyundai celebrated a milestone yesterday when it sold the one-millionth Santa Fe crossover, which was the Korean automaker's first-and-only SUV when it was introduced in 2000. Hyundai credits the Santa Fe as being a key factor to the company's growth and success in the US, but it didn't describe the one-millionth Santa Fe or say where it was sold.
Although it may be a distinction of mild importance on a global scale, Hyundai announced that last month it set an all-time sales record for the month of April. Digging a little deeper, Hyundai-Blog – an enthusiast site not affiliated with the South Korean automaker – is reporting that another record was set: to go along with 63,315 total sales in April, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama assembled a record 37,372 Elantra and Sonata sedans.
Less than a month ago, Hyundai announced it would be adding a third shift at its Alabama assembly plant, resulting in an additional 877 jobs. You'd imagine with Alabama running a 7.2-percent unemployment rate in April – ranking right in the middle of the 50 states – competition for those jobs would be pretty serious. But nobody, least of all Hyundai, expected this. As of May 22, the automaker had received some 18,500 applications, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
Hyundai sales are up 10 percent already this year, after ending 2011 on a 20-percent uptick. With its Alabama assembly plant already running over capacity, something had to change. In response, the Korean automaker will be adding 877 jobs at its Montgomery assembly plant to begin a third shift, starting in September 2012.
Hyundai, one of the largest employers in the state of Alabama, has been urged by a group of 15 civil rights organizations and labor unions, including the United Auto Workers and NAACP, to help overturn Alabama's immigration law.
Why is this man smiling? Well, it could be because hotcakes only wish they were selling as well as Hyundais. Or perhaps that grin says he knows something we don't – like when and where his company plans to build a second North American assembly plant.
To understand just how far Hyundai has come in the past few years, look no further than the Sonata. The smartly styled sedan has earned attention and praise with fantastic efficiency and reliability, but we shouldn't forget that the last generation Sonata was a big step forward as well.
Which automaker do you think is the most "American"? Some might say Chevrolet, since they're the self-proclaimed Heartbeat of America. Others might say Ford since the Mustang is as iconic an American image as baseball and apple pie. What if we told you the answer might just be Hyundai? As of next year, 80 percent of the vehicles that Hyundai sells in the United States will be made here as well.
Hyundai first started building cars at its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant in May 2005, and last week amidst considerable fanfare, the plant's one millionth car rolled off the line. The milestone vehicle was a 2010 Sonata sedan, one of the last of its type before the plant switches over to the new 2011 YF model that debuted in Los Angeles at nearly the same time.