Georgia, Hyundai officials celebrate new electric vehicle plant

Officials including Gov. Brian Kemp, Rep. Buddy Carter, Sen. Raphael Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff join a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site of a new electric vehicle plant. (Emily Jones/WABE)

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Georgia political leaders from both sides of the aisle gathered on the coast Tuesday to celebrate the new Hyundai electric vehicle plant coming to Bryan County, near Savannah.

The $5.5 billion manufacturing plant announced last spring is the largest economic development project in state history. It promises to create about 8,100 jobs.

At a ceremonial groundbreaking, Georgia politicians, Hyundai officials, the South Korean ambassador to the U.S. and the deputy commerce secretary all celebrated the project. 

Gathered in a large structure at the site of the future plant, they toasted the development with champagne — delivered to most attendees by human servers, but to Governor Brian Kemp and Hyundai officials on stage by a yellow robot named Spot.

The dignitaries then lined up to plunge shovels into a long box of dirt in front of the indoor event stage. Work to prepare the site is already underway, with construction on the plant expected to start early next year. 

A quadripedal robot delivers champagne to Hyundai Executive Chairman Euisun Chung, Gov. Brian Kemp and Hyundai COO José Muñoz. (Emily Jones/WABE)

Kemp thanked a long list of state officials in his remarks and highlighted the thousands of jobs promised by this plant and other electric vehicle and clean energy projects.

“These jobs are the future coming to Georgia because businesses know we’re not only a sure bet today, we will continue to be for generations in the future,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after the event, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock touted his own work to secure green jobs. 

“I’ve also put forward a lot of legislation focused on creating a green energy future, everything from electric vehicles to electric batteries being manufactured in the state, to manufacturing to investing in solar manufacturing,” he said.

In his remarks, the South Korean ambassador did note one sticking point: Hyundai vehicles aren’t eligible for some of the tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act because some of their supply chain is outside the US — a dispute officials said they’re working to resolve. Warnock has introduced a bill to delay the phasing in of those requirements, giving automakers like Hyundai more time to ramp up their U.S. supply chains.