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Heritage story

New EV-dedicated Plant in Ulsan: the beginning of a new dream

6 minute read

The heart of the South Korean automotive industry, Hyundai Motor Company's Ulsan plant, continues the ambitious dream and embarks on a new challenge in the era of electrification.
It was here that we first realized our vision of bringing “Progress for Humanity”, and it’s here that we will continue to bring this vision to a life well into the future. Ready to learn more about Ulsan and its place in our hearts? Keep reading to find out more.

Ulsan, the city where the grand dream is born

In a bygone era amid the stark aftermath of war, a dream was born: a dream that aspired to uplift a nation and drive its people toward prosperity.

Ulsan is the city that made Hyundai what it is today. The plant we established here came from the humblest of origins – a small Ford assembly plant located on reclaimed land in an industrial zone during the 1960s. But from the earliest days, we were confident that our vision and our unwavering commitment to “Progress for Humanity” would lead the way.

With our Hyundai Motor Company's vision at its core, Ulsan underwent an extraordinary transformation, propelling Hyundai's flagship manufacturing plant to the zenith of the world's premier automobile manufacturing giants.

It won’t happen overnight; as the developed nations already boast long traditions and wide networks within their auto industries, there surely are markets around the world where our efforts can bear fruit. – JU-YUNG CHUNG, FOUNDING CHAIRMAN OF HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP

A view of the countryside in Ulsan before the manufacturing plant was built.
A historical photo of the first manufacturing plant to be built in Ulsan in 1968.

And today? Well, our Ulsan plant not only boasts the capacity to produce over 1.5 million cars annually, solidifying its status as the largest automobile factory worldwide. Ulsan plant has also evolved into a central hub for electrification.

By establishing a dedicated EV facility at Ulsan, we have ensured that our enduring dream of "Progress for Humanity" continues to flourish with unwavering vitality. We have also solidified the role of Ulsan as the pulsating heart of South Korea's industrial development.

A historical photo of two Hyundai cars driving around the test driving facility at the Ulsan plant.

The grand dream comes true

So how did Korea – a nation grappling with post-war recovery, which was devoid of automobile production capabilities – rise to become the owner of the world's largest automobile plant and an ambitious vision of global prominence?

It all boils down to Hyundai's audacious spirit. It’s this spirit that brought about the birth of our iconic Pony at Ulsan – an enduring symbol of our resolute commitment to revolutionizing production capabilities.

This spirit also led our team of brilliant minds to spearhead an avant-garde test-driving facility. And it’s this spirit that allowed us to ride the wings of innovation to elevate product safety and quality to unprecedented heights.

Through our commitment to “Progress for Humanity”, we orchestrated the construction of a purpose-built export dock, propelling our global reach with turbocharged efficiency. This has made the Ulsan factory the biggest, and only, automobile plant where manufacturing, testing, and exporting can all occur at the same location.

A historical photo of the export dock filled with Hyundai cars in the 1960s.
A forward facing original red PONY with a sign with the numbers 100.001 on the front. The central PONY is surrounded by PONYs in different colors on both sides.

Groundbreaking technology with humans taking center stage

Right now, we’re witnessing a seismic shift from the roar of internal combustion engines to the promising hush of electric vehicles. But with dedicated partners, Hyundai Motor Company can maintain our accumulated heritage and embark on a new journey.

It always has - and always will be - humans and their formidable minds that propel Hyundai Motor Company into the coveted ranks of the world's biggest automobile manufacturing giants.

The spirited collaborators behind Hyundai Motor Company's unwavering determination have transformed what seemed impossible into the tangible and remarkable reality we witness today. It was here at Ulsan that our first Sonata (Y2) EV came to life.

The success of our Ulsan plant is down to all those people who dared to dream, those who dared to redefine the future, and those who devoted themselves to advancing humanity's progress – they are the heralds of Hyundai Motor Company's extraordinary journey.

A navy blue Hyundai car parked in the middle of the road with its hood open.
A historical color photo of an employee dressed in a blue shirt and black pants looking under the hood of a white Hyundai car.

Hyundai Motor Company is a company that supports me and countless other unsung craftsmen, and it's a company that we built together. Fundamentally, we're all comrades in arms. JU-YUNG CHUNG, FOUNDING CHAIRMAN OF HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP

Thumbnail image for 'Opening film for New EV-dedicated Plant in Ulsan ground-breaking ceremony' - Black and white photo of the Founding Chairman Ju-yung Chung leading on site.

Watch the opening film for 'New EV-dedicated Plant in Ulsan ground-breaking ceremony' with an AI restored voice of Founding
Chairman Ju-yung Chung. (Link)

Putting (and keeping) people at the heart of innovation

The tens of thousands of individuals who have propelled us to today's achievements are also at the heart of our expedition into the electrifying era of electric vehicles.

In our future, it is the unified coalition of tireless dreamers that will chart a new course through the annals of history. For us, it’s always been the human touch that breathes life into ideas and expands the realms of possibility.

“Taking over the legacy of the Ulsan plant, which has transformed our grand dreams into a reality by putting people at the heart of innovation, will strive to become the first mover in the era of electrification. - JAEHOON CHANG, PRESIDENT & CEO of HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY

Left) A historical black and white photo of Hyundai Motor Company employees walking and cycling around the Ulsan plant in their boilersuits. Right) Today's employees walking into the plant in Ulsan.

Driving us from the past to the future

So, what's next for Ulsan, and the world’s largest automobile plant?

Well, the Ulsan factory, which has progressively become more machine-centric as automation has increased, is now evolving into a new people-centered EV factory, setting the course for the future.

It represents our strong determination to lead the future of electric vehicles through pioneering innovation, pursuing the ambitious dream.

This ambitious project, following in the footsteps of our pioneering facility in Atlanta, Georgia, represents a whole new frontier for EVs: an avant-garde EV manufacturing center that embodies our revolutionary HMGICS(Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore) technology and cutting-edge process methodologies.

A bird’s eye view of the new EV-dedicated plant at Ulsan. The plant has a gray roof and gray walls and is located on the side of a river.

With this strategic maneuver, we are poised to embark on our mission to secure 34% (2 million units) of global EV production by 2030, a visionary milestone unveiled during the CEO Investor Day in June.

To celebrate this new move for Ulsan, we hosted a ground-breaking ceremony on the site of the new Ulsan EV Factory in November 2023. We’re now ready for the plant’s next chapter and can’t wait to see where it takes us.

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