"Korean cars will conquer the world". Ju-yung Chung, Hyundai's founder, repeated it like a mantra until the day he died in 2001. The rest is history, with Hyundai Motor Group managing to climb up the carmaker rankings (where it ranks third) and also planning to jump on the electric transition by increasing production capacity at the Ulsan plant.
The goal? To assemble up to 200,000 more electric vehicles per year from 2026 and to test cutting-edge production technologies.
A factory within a factory
The Ulsan plant is already by far the largest in the world, with 1.4 million cars assembled by 2022. To give you an idea of what that means, in Wolfsburg, Germany, Volkswagen can assemble a maximum of 800,000 cars per year.
The electric car plant will be built on an area of 548,000 m2, the foundation stone for which was laid today, 13 November, in the presence of Euisun Chung, Executive Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, and Jaehoon Chang, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company. They were joined by the mayor and the first vice-minister of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Youngjin Jang.
Euisun Chung, president of Hyundai Motor Corporation
Jaehoon Chang, CEO of Hyundai Motor Group
The entrance to the conference hall set up in the Ulsan site.
Hyundai's "hyperfusion" hypothesis
The new plant is designed not only to increase production capacity, but to introduce new production technologies crucial to reducing costs and thus the final price to the customer.
No further details were given outside the press conference, but to InsideEVs' specific question on whether or not so-called Hyper Casting, i.e. the process that minimises body components by stamping them with giant presses, will be adopted, the answer was as follows:
Hyundai Motor intends to apply an innovative production platform, developed by the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre in Singapore (HMGICS), to secure the future of the plant and prioritise employee safety, comfort and efficiency. The platform includes smart control systems based on artificial intelligence and on-demand; environmentally friendly, low-carbon construction methods to achieve carbon neutrality and RE100 certification.
The Group's spokesman did not confirm, but neither did he deny, the rumours that have been rumoured for months in the Korean trade press, but it seems to be implied that the new technology that is to characterise the production process will be developed in-house without recourse to third-party suppliers, such as the Italian company IDRA that produces Tesla's famous Giga Press.
In any case, the first model to see the light of day at the new plant will be the Genesis SUV, built on the new IMA (Integrated Modular Architecture) platform, starting in the first quarter of 2026.
The new factory will be ready in 2025
A touch of Italian flair
On the sidelines of the inaugural conference, the history of the Ulsan plant was celebrated with an exhibition of models that have made the group's history. From the first car assembled under licence at the plant, the Ford Capri, to the car that powered South Korea, the Pony.
The latter, in particular, has a history linked to Italy. In fact, the Pony Coupé prototype was designed in the 1970s by the pencil of Giorgetto Giugiaro, who was among the guests of honour. The Italian designer, answering questions from journalists, also confirmed that GFG Style has resumed its collaboration with Hyundai to build concept cars.
Giorgetto Giugiaro responds to journalists' questions
A replica of the Hyundai Pony Coupé
3 million electric cars
The investment in the Ulsan expansion amounts to €1.43 billion (approx. £1.25 billion) and is part of a strategy to increase domestic production of electric cars from the current 330,000 units to 1.51 million by 2030, which will be added to those assembled at the other 10 plants around the world, for a total of 3 million BEVs.
In fact, all brands (Hyundai, Kia and Genesis) combined, some 30 new battery-powered models will come to market, which should enable the Hyundai Group to become one of the world's top three producers of electric cars.
With the Ulsan expansion, the challenge of conquering the electric car market is now an 'official' goal for the Koreans and part of the symbolic site where the brand's industrial adventure began on 29 December 1967.
Today the automotive world has changed, the contenders are called Tesla and BYD, but the ambitions of this company, which embodies the dream of an entire people, are exactly the same as they were fifty-five years ago. In short, all the conditions are in place for history to repeat itself.