LOS ANGELES -- Hyundai Motor America said today that it plans to build its redesigned 2011 Elantra sedan in Alabama this fall ahead of when it goes on sale in early 2011.
All Elantra sedans built at the plant will be sold in North America, rather than its current practice of importing all Elantras sold in the U.S. from South Korea.
Hyundai still will import the high-line Elantra Touring model from South Korea, and it may import other trim levels of the Elantra sedan for U.S. sale, depending on demand, Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford said.
“We will have the ability to take some additional production, if we need it, from Korea,” said Hosford, adding that it was too early to say how many Elantras would be built in the United States.
By still importing at least some Elantras for U.S. sales, Hyundai says it can continue to churn-out its hot-selling Sonata sedan from the Alabama plant.
“Because we have the flexibility to take additional production from outside the plant, it shouldn’t have any impact on Sonata production at all,” Hosford said. “We will have the ability to build Sonata to demand at the Alabama plant.”
The Elantra production move comes roughly a month after Hyundai shifted production of its Santa Fe crossover to the Georgia assembly plant of its corporate cousin Kia Motors America. The move allowed Hyundai to boost production of the Sonata to capitalize on the sedan’s sales momentum. The Sonata has seen sales soar 50 percent this year and is Hyundai’s best-selling model in the United States.
With the addition of the Elantra to the brand’s U.S.-built duo of the Sonata and Santa Fe, Hyundai will build its three best-selling vehicles in the United States domestically. The redesigned 2011 Elantra will make its public debut in November at the Los Angeles auto show.
Led by the Sonata sedan, Hyundai sold 363,491 new vehicles in the first eight months of 2010, a 17 percent increase compared with the same period last year, according to the Automotive News data center. Elantra sales were up 21percent in the same period.
Sales for the total U.S. market rose 8 percent through August compared with the same period last year.