SEOUL - Hyundai Motor Corp.'s new $1.25 billion Asan plant has achieved even higher levels of automation and efficiency than Daewoo's Kunsan plant.
Like Kunsan, Asan is built on reclaimed land and has a capacity of 300,000 units a year. Unlike Kunsan, Asan has no plastics molding operation or truck assembly.
Asan is more automated than Kunsan. It has 1,650 employees, half the workforce of its rival. Hyundai says its welding shop is 100 percent automated.
The small workforce is a response to a series of strikes. Hyundai says automation in the stamping shop also reduce worker fatigue and job hazards.
Asan builds the Sonata, Hyundai's best seller in Korea. Hyundai did not want the model threatened by another strike.
'The recession has given us a very good chance to think about our strategy. We can reduce our labor force, improve productivity and reduce our costs,' said Chung Mong-gyu, Hyundai's chairman.
Asan was built in 26 months.
The plant is 150km south of Seoul and less than an hour's drive from Hyundai's new Namyang large-car r&d and test center. The two facilities work together.