Hyundai Motor Co and DaimlerChrysler have broken ground for the construction of their new joint venture commercial vehicle engine plant located in Hyundai Motor’s Chonju plant.

Last year, the two companies announced the formation of a new 50:50 engine joint venture named Daimler Hyundai Truck Corporation.

The 34,000 square metre Daimler Hyundai Truck plant represents an investment of KW30 billion ($US230 million) including engine development as well as plant tooling costs. It will produce DaimlerChrysler’s 900 series diesel engines at the rate of 50,000 units annually when it becomes fully operational by 2005. Pilot production is scheduled to begin in September 2003.

Over 300 guests attended the groundbreaking ceremony including Hyundai president Dong-Jin Kim and senior executive vice president Choong-Yong Kim, head of Hyundai’s commercial vehicle division.

Representing DaimlerChrysler were president Eckhardt Cordes of the commercial vehicle division and vice president Rudiger Grube of strategic planning.

“Each company brings unique merits to the partnership and this new plant is just the beginning of the great synergies both Hyundai and DaimlerChrysler are beginning to enjoy as a result of our collaboration,” said Kim Dong-Jin. “The new plant will deepen our relationship and enable our two companies to offer the most competitive diesels engines in the world,” he added.

DC’s Cordes said: “I’m extremely proud of our partnership with Hyundai Motor. This project will be mutually advantageous for DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai.”

DC says the new 900 series engine offers a 10% improvement in fuel economy over the previous generation engine and is fully Euro 3-compliant.

The plant will manufacture the 900 engines in a 4.3-litre four-cylinder version as well in six-cylinder 6.4- and 7.2-litre displacements. The engines will be fitted to a range of Hyundai Motor trucks from 2.5 tonnes to 14 tonnes as well as buses.

Hyundai, DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi Motors are also cooperating on the design, development and engineering of a new family of in-line four cylinder passenger car engines which will be produced by all three makers starting with Hyundai in 2004.

DaimlerChrysler holds a 10.5% stake in Hyundai Motor.