When you think of American cars, Hyundai is probably not the first name that comes to mind. That is, of course, to be expected. Hyundai is a Korean company and has its corporate headquarters in Seoul. Yet despite its roots in Asia, Hyundai is a truly international organization, and there is perhaps no better example of its global reach than the impact Hyundai has on the economy of Alabama.
A new study released this month reveals that Hyundai generated a $4.8 billion economic impact in Alabama in 2014, accounting for 2% of the state’s real gross domestic product. In addition, Hyundai’s Montgomery manufacturing plant and its suppliers were responsible for 34,000 full-time equivalent jobs, a critical shot in the arm for the state’s economy. These obvious signs of economic impact are supplemented by programs like Hyundai’s work with Auburn University researchers, or their donation of vehicles to automotive training programs.
Hyundai’s Montgomery plant, which produces both the Sonata and the Elantra, rolled out almost 400,000 cars last year, in addition to three kinds of engines. Car manufacturing is Alabama’s largest industry, and in July Hyundai’s Montgomery workers built more cars than in any month in the plant’s 10-year history.
Although Hyundai has cemented its status as one of the premiere automotive manufacturers in the U.S. relatively recently, it is one of the five largest automotive companies in the world, employing over 75,000 employees worldwide. Hyundai is a primary sponsor of the FIFA World Cup and the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, and is now the official automotive sponsor of the NFL.
Hyundai’s story demonstrates how, in this modern, global economy, a business founded on one continent can become an essential part of another continent’s industrial DNA. Hyundai’s plants and education programs in the Southeastern U.S., as well as Hyundai’s many dealerships and charitable ventures, show that in 2015, a Korean company can be an American company, too.