Hyundai Motor now has the capacity to build 760,000 cars outside Korea every year, according to the Korea Herald.

The paper noted that Hyundai's overseas production began with Indian and Turkish factories in 1998, followed by a Chinese plant in 2002 and, most recently, the US plant in Alabama this year.

Overseas production capacity of Korea's largest car maker is expected to more than double by 2009, the Korea Herald said. Hyundai announced early this year it will build its second Indian plant capable of producing 150,000 cars annually. Together with the 250,000 units currently made at Chennai, Hyundai will be able to make 400,000 vehicles in India by 2007.

In China, the world's fastest growing economy, Hyundai currently has annual production capacity of 300,000 units and plans to increase it to meet rising demand.

According to the paper, the Chinese joint venture Beijing Hyundai Motor sold nearly 171,567 cars in the eight months to end-August this year. Only two other carmakers - Shanghai GM and Gwangzhou Honda - sold more than Beijing Hyundai with about 219,152 units and 172,429 units, respectively.

Hyundai's Avante XD, called the Elantra in China, rivals Tianjin Toyota's Xiali to become the bestseller with more than 131,000 units sold in the same period, the Korea Herald noted.

Hyundai also said in June that its new Chinese joint venture Guangzhou Hyundai will begin rolling out 20,000 commercial vehicles in 2007 and will increase production volume to 200,000 units by 2011.

In late September, Hyundai announced that it is set to invest 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in building a plant in the Czech Republic as part of its global expansion plan.

The envisioned plant, Hyundai Motor's first in Europe, will have an annual output of about 300,000 cars and be used to produce models exclusively for the European market, where the company has been growing at about 20% annually, the paper said.

The Korea Herald said the car maker hopes to break ground next year, with mass production expected by the latter half of 2008, and its chairman Chung Mong-koo toured three candidate sites near Ostrava, east of Prague, in October. Affiliate Kia Motors is building a factory in neighbouring Slovakia worth EUR1.1bn.

"Hyundai Motor has carefully studied the need to advance into Eastern Europe and has decided that the Czech Republic is the most ideal candidate as it is growing into a business hub of central Europe after joining the EU," Chung reportedly said.

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