Hyundai Motor Company with dozens of state and local government officials, yesterday broke ground for the company's first US automotive manufacturing plant, to be built on 1,620 acres of land in Montgomery, Alabama.

The $US1 billion facility, set to begin production in 2005, will build the next generation of the popular Sonata sedan and Santa Fe sport utility vehicle.

At peak production, the facility will employ approximately 2,000 people and produce 300,000 vehicles per year.  The site will include a manufacturing and assembly facility, as well as a stamping plant and an engine plant.

Hyundai Automotive Group Chairman Mong Koo Chung announced the formation of a new subsidiary, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, LLC, which will be responsible for plant operations in the Montgomery area.

The decision to build the facility in Alabama comes on the heels of continued strong sales growth in the US market.  In 2001, the Hyundai Automotive Group (Hyundai and Kia) saw sales of 569,956 units in the United States, an increase of 29 percent over 2000 and the largest increase in the car industry.