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Hyundai, Georgia Ports celebrate first shipment of equipment
Oscar Kwan and Kent Fountain
Oscar Kwan, president and CEO of Hyundai Motorgroup Metaplant America, presents Kent Fountain, chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority executive board, with a model car during a ceremony Aug. 14 marking the arrival of the first equipment for the Metaplant. (Photos by Jeff Whitten for the Effingham Herald.)

By Jeff Whitten, Special to the Herald

 

GARDEN CITY – As the massive container ship Hyundai Pride loomed in the background Aug. 14, officials celebrated the arrival from South Korea of the first equipment bound for Hyundai’s Metaplant America in Bryan County. 

It was, they said, another milestone in the state’s largest ever economic investment project. 

Carter Infinger, chairman of both the Bryan County Commission and the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority, reminded those at the event that 18 months ago the site in Bryan County off I-16 where the Metaplant America is being built, was a wooded area of nearly 3,000 acres, the purchase of which was still under negotiation.  

Hyundai announced it was building its Metaplant America in Bryan County in May 2022, and the state announced later that summer it had purchased the land near the I-16 exit at Highway 280 for $61 million. 

Now, Infinger said, buildings are “coming out of the ground,” on the site which together stretch some three-quarters of a mile along the interstate. He called the project transformative. 

“This will make generational change and provide plenty of opportunity for jobs,” Infinger said. “And we’ve made great friends with Hyundai. These are exciting times.” 

Carter Infinger
Carter Infinger, chairman of both the Bryan County Commission and the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority, takes a photo near the stern of the Hyundai Pride, which docked in Savannah Aug. 13. The container ship carried the first parts for the equipment which will be used to manufacture electric vehicles at the Metaplant America in Bryan County.
The Metaplant is expected to begin production early in 2025 and is being promoted as the automaker’s first state-of-the-art U.S. smart factory.  It will produce between 300,000 to 500,000 Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia EVs annually, the company says.

The equipment that arrived to be offloaded in Savannah this week contains parts for a crane to be used in the stamping facility to move metal presses.

“This shipment is equipment is vital to the completion of the project,” said Oscar Kwan, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America. “I’m sure this plant, and the vehicles that will be produced there have the potential to change this community, the future of electric mobility, and assist in creating a more sustainable future for us all.” 

Hyundai’s investment in Bryan County alone is projected at more than $9 billion with the Metaplant in Black Creek, where the EVs will be manufactured, and the Hyundai Mobis plant in Richmond Hill, where the vehicle power packs will be built.  Combined, the two plants are expected to provide more than 9,000 jobs. 

Other counties in the JDA footprint, which includes Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham counties, as well as other counties in Georgia, have already seen an additional 5,176 jobs and $2.09 billion in investment from Hyundai suppliers, according to the JDA. 

Kent Fountain, the chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority’s executive board, said the port has long had a “special relationship” with industry based in Korea, including Hyundai and Kia, but the busy port still has “plenty of capacity,” for Hyundai “to bring many, many more containers in to the port.” 

Fountain called Hyundai's Metaplant America, "the dawn of a new era in automotive technology and sustainability in the great state of Georgia."