In 1968, the Cortina was the first car to roll out of Hyundai's Ulsan plant in South Korea. The four-door sedan was essentially a rebadged Ford, but it set in motion a manufacturing phenomenon that became home to some of Hyundai’s most popular cars like the Getz, Accent, Elantra, and Sonata, among many others. Fast forward by over five decades, and the Ulsan complex seems poised to undergo one of its most significant transformations in history: becoming an electric vehicle production powerhouse.
The Ulsan plant complex will now become a “base of future mobility production,” Hyundai announced yesterday. Construction of a new dedicated EV plant at the site – spread over 548,000 square meters with an estimated annual production capacity of 200,000 EVs – will begin this quarter, and is scheduled to be completed by 2025. Mass production of EVs will begin in the first quarter of 2026, said Hyundai in a press release, and a Genesis electric SUV will be the first model to be produced in the new plant.
The Cortina was the first model made in Ulsan under a licensing agreement with Ford.
The KoreanCarBlog reported that the flagship Genesis GV90 would be the first model to be manufactured at the dedicated EV plant. Reports suggest that it would ride on Hyundai Motor Group’s next-generation Integrated Modular Architecture (IMA). Under the IMA, there are two new platforms, eM and eS. HMG will use the former for passenger cars like the GV90, and the latter for purpose-built vehicles (PBVs) in applications like delivery, logistics, and car-hailing.
The new plant would be the bedrock for HMG's EV operations for the next five decades. “The new EV-dedicated plant in Ulsan is the beginning of a promising future for the next 50 years and the era of electrification. I am honored to share our dream of a 100-year company here,” said Euisun Chung, Executive Chair of Hyundai Motor Group. “I trust Ulsan will be an innovative mobility city that leads the way in the era of electrification, starting with a dedicated EV plant,” he added.
Hyundai also claims that the new plant will incorporate an “innovative manufacturing platform” built at its innovation center in Singapore. The platform includes “demand-driven AI-based intelligent control systems, low-carbon construction methods, and 100 percent renewable energy use.” While the brand also has big plans for the US in terms of new EV models, a lot of the research, development, and innovation takes place in Ulsan – also the birthplace of the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6.
Hyundai plans to launch 11 new EVs by 2030, including three sedans, six SUVs, and a light commercial vehicle. Genesis has plans to launch two “passenger cars,” and four SUVs, while Kia plans to complete a line-up of 14 new EVs by 2027 which includes the likes of the already on-sale EV6 and the EV9, reservations for which are already open in the US. Apart from the Genesis SUV, it’s unclear which other models the upcoming Ulsan plant will produce, but it’s safe to assume that it will be integral to the brand’s electrification roadmap.