HYUNDAI Motor Co will be setting up an assembly plant in the Czech Republic to further strengthen its presence in Europe, said Byung Ho Lee, the global communication group director of Hyundai and Kia Motors Corp.
Apart from the Czech Republic, Hyundai was also looking at the possibility of setting up a plant in Chile to enhance its presence in South America, he said.
Lee was speaking to reporters after the launch of the new Getz 1.5 VGT diesel and 1.4L petrol in Barcelona recently. Also present at the event was Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors Sdn Bhd marketing and services director Azlan Ismail.
Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors is the Hyundai brand franchise holder.
The Czech city of Ostrava is likely to be the site for the 300,000-unit-a-year facility, as it is located just 70km from Zilina Slovakia where Hyundai affiliate Kia Motors is currently constructing a plant.
Production at the plant, expected to cost one billion euros, is projected to start in the second half of 2008.
Europe is Hyundai's second largest market after North America with sales expected to reach 420,000 units this year.
Hyundai has forecast that European sales would reach 520,000 units next year and 580,000 in 2007.
Lee said that to support the rapidly growing sales in the region, Hyundai was quadrupling its European design and technical centre in Russelheim, Germany.
Apart from South Korea and Russelheim, Hyundai also has design centres in Detroit, Irvine in California and Tokyo. In the United States, Hyundai has a plant in Alabama. It has also set up plants in China, Turkey, India and Malaysia.
On the new Getz, Lee said it was an extremely important model for Hyundai and was topping the company's overall model refinement. He added that the new Hyundai was fully focused on fulfilling customer needs.
Azlan said the new Getz would be available in Malaysia only in the first quarter of 2006.
“The price will be decided later,” he said, adding that the engines were designed and developed with major input from Hyundai’s research and development centre in Germany.
Azlan said only the 1.4L petrol version would be available in Malaysia, in addition to the 1.3L model. – Bernama