Steel framing is more than 80 percent complete, with 27,000 tons of steel having already been used on the factory.

A year after breaking ground, Hyundai Motor Group has hired about 290 people at its Metaplant near Savannah, the company announced as it released photos and renderings of the factory being built along Interstate 16

These “Meta Pros,” in company parlance, are direct employees of Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America, or HMGMA.

They represent the first fruits of a promised 8,500 jobs on the site, which will include a joint-venture battery facility with LG that is accounting for the bulk of the financial investment.

The employee tally doesn’t include the 2,000 construction workers who are laboring to build the facility, which has sprung up quickly in Bryan County as the company races to meet demand for made-in-America vehicles that qualify for the $7,500 tax credit outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act. Nor does it include supplier jobs, which Hyundai says will boost its employment impact to 14,476 jobs. 

While a U.S. manufacturing base will provide regulatory certainty under the Biden administration, the Korean auto maker could face a changing market and new political risks when it comes online by early 2025. EV sales globally have cooled since the company announced its $5.54 billion investment in May 2022.

On its careers website, Hyundai paints a techno-utopian picture of the new plant, describing it as an idyllic place for employees who want to forge the future of car manufacturing. The company is hiring as construction continues. [View live job postings]

The plant will “boast a highly-connected, automated and flexible manufacturing system where all processor production — order collection, procurement, logistics and production — will be optimized utilizing AI and data.” 

Such big ambitions are perhaps behind the company’s decision to eschew more prosaic terms like “factory” in describing its facility, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which compared the Georgia plant with a much smaller Singapore factory sharing some of the same features. 

The Hyundai careers site goes on to describe why the company has latched on to “Meta” as a descriptor. 

“In science, the prefix ‘Meta’ can mean transformation or transcending. Using those definitions, the Metaplant will transform the destination of what an automotive plant is and will transcend its Meta Pros’ perception of what working in a manufacturing facility will be.” 

Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America careers website

As if to support these claims, Hyundai released renderings and announced a number of touches within the factory and on its grounds, including: 

  • Parallel lights along the front of the building to allow interstate travelers to see the vehicles as they move from the paint area to general assembly by conveyor
  • An exhibition hall designed in a square to pay homage to Savannah’s historic squares, complete with a courtyard and water features
  • On the production floor: Open layouts, indoor landscaping and respite zones with skylights, all designed to enhance collaboration
  • 5.2 megawatts of energy produced by a solar parking lot with 1,878 spaces, helping the plant reach its goal of being 100 percent powered by renewable energy at the start of mass production
  • A 41-acre ecological park with trails, tracks and sports fields

Hyundai also provided a construction update, saying 27,045 tons of steel have been used in competing 81 percent of the facility’s framing. 

“We are extremely pleased with the design of our state-of-the-art smart plant and are eager to see the finished product,” Oscar Kwon, CEO of HMGMA, said in a news release. 

The 290-employee figure breaks down to 182 salaried and 108 hourly workers, Hyundai said. So far, 53 Korean expatriates are on site to aid with the construction process and commissioning aspects of the plant. 

Read the full news release here

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...