Hyundai's Korea-made EVs do not qualify for purchase incentives, leading to a rush to produce in the United States. Here, an Ionic5 is pictured at the Hyundai Motor Studio in Goyang, Seoul. Credit: Seokyong Lee / Penta Press

Hyundai and LG Energy Solution are set to invest $2 billion more into in their joint venture battery plant near Savannah, creating 400 jobs above their initial pledge. 

The companies in May said that the battery cell facility, located on the site of the Hyundai Metaplant in Ellabell, would require investment of $4.3 billion.

State officials stressed at the time that this was not newly committed capital but was part of the previously announced $5.5 billion total for the battery facility and adjacent EV factory.  

But on Thursday, the companies announced that they would put $2 billion more into the battery facility, bringing the full project total to $7.59 billion. With the new jobs, the Metaplant should now employ 8,500 people between the battery and EV assembly facilities, up from the 8,100 initially promised. 

“This incremental investment in Bryan County reflects our continued commitment to create a more sustainable future powered by American workers,” said José Muñoz, president and global COO, Hyundai Motor Co. and president and CEO, Hyundai and Genesis Motor North America, in a news release. 

It’s unclear from the release exactly how the new capital will be deployed, whether it will speed up the time to production or simply expand the capacity of the factories in advance of future growth. 

According to a release from the office of Gov. Brian Kemp, the factory will still initially produce 30 GWh of battery cells annually, the same capacity the companies announced when publicizing their partnership earlier this year. Similarly, the output is still pegged at enough to power 300,000 EVs — the initial capacity of the Hyundai Metaplant. 

A signing ceremony for the new investment was held in Savannah. From left to right: Trip Tollison, President & CEO of Savannah Economic Development Authority; Carter Infinger, Savannah Joint Development Authority chair; Oscar Kwon, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America; José Muñoz, President & Global COO of Hyundai Motor Company and President & CEO of Hyundai Motors North America; Pat Wilson, Georgia Department of Economic Development commissioner Credit: Savannah Economic Development Authority

The cells made by the 50-50 joint venture will be sent to Hyundai Mobis, another supplier on the 2,900-acre Metaplant site, to be put into modules before being integrated into the EV assembly process. 

The project is the latest in a parade of South Korean investments worth billions of dollars and thousands of jobs for the state. 

It comes on top of the more than $2 billion that affiliated suppliers have announced in nearby factories meant to feed into the company’s first dedicated EV plant in the United States. 

Hyundai and Kia are ramping up production of electric models at their existing Alabama and Georgia factories, respectively, to get new SUVs quickly to market. In West Point, Kia is investing $200 million toward production of its EV9, the first all-electric seven-seater SUV to be introduced in the U.S., by the end of 2024. Hyundai earlier this year started making the electrified Genesis GV70 in Montgomery, Ala. 

The U.S. this year began subsidizing domestic electric-vehicle production through purchase incentives outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act passed last August.

Given their Korean provenance, none of Hyundai Motor Group’s EVs currently qualify, except when leased.

That fact has led to lobbying efforts by company leaders and Korean diplomats visiting Georgia over the last year.  

All told, Hyundai received an incentive package worth $1.8 billion for its $5.5 billion plant; it’s unclear whether the additional $2 billion commitment required the negotiation of a separate package.

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...