Hyundai Motor has started commercial production at its assembly plant in Ukraine.

An unnamed official said the move was part of Hyundai‘s plans to step up its march into eastern Europe, Dow Jones reported citing South Korean news agency Yonhap.

The plant assembles the Tucson small SUV from kits imported from South Korea, Yonhap said.

This model is popular Europe-wide. Hyundai affiliate KIA now builds its Sportage variant in eastern Europe at its new plant in Slovakia.

Hyundai said the US$365m facility in Ukraine was built by local carmaker VAT Bohdan Automobile Plant.

During the second half of this year, the new plant plans to produce Elantra compact cars. Hyundai plans to produce 60,000 vehicles in Ukraine by 2010, the official told Yonhap.