Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's top carmaker, is considering setting up a second plant in the United States in an effort to up its production of full-size vehicles in line with rising demand in the world's No. 1 economy, industry sources said Wednesday.
The new factory, set to be built near the carmaker's current Alabama plant, would have an annual production capacity of 300,000 units and used mostly to manufacture SUVs, Yonhap news agency reported.
Although the sources said construction is set to begin later this year, with plans to start production in 2017, the automaker has not yet disclosed any plans for the second U.S. factory.
"We are constantly going over the possibility of building new plants overseas to raise offshore sales and secure a new growth engine for the company, but nothing has been decided yet," a Hyundai official said.
Sales analysis suggests the carmaker would need to make a swift decision about a new factory, given the popularity of SUVs in the U.S. market.
During the first two months of the year, sales for the segment came to 885,000 units in the world's second-largest auto market, up 14.5 percent from a year earlier, according to industry data.
The South Korean carmaker's sales of its Santa Fe SUV surged 20 percent to 16,511 units over the cited period, the data showed.
Hyundai Motor's Alabama plant is currently capable of manufacturing up to 300,000 vehicles per year, but the facility's hands are tied up with the production of the Sonata midsize sedan and the Elantra compact car. SUV production for the company is handled by its corporate cousin Kia Motors Corp.'s separate factory in Georgia.
Hyundai Motor Group, the world's No. 5 auto giant under which Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors share one roof, is building more factories in Mexico as well as in China.
Should Hyundai Motor go ahead with the plans for the second U.S. factory, the combined production capacity of Hyundai Motor Group would reach 9.2 million units per year in 2018.
Shares of Hyundai Motor finished at 176,500 won ($156.69) on the local Seoul bourse, up 2.02 percent from the previous day's close.