Hyundai/Kia Seeks More Tech Types in Michigan

Seeking to become both an econocar leader plus a trend-setter, Hyundai Motor America is planning to step up growth of its state-of-the-art tech center at Ypsilanti, MI, near Ann Arbor and Detroit. The Hyundai/Kia Michigan Center already is sending shock waves through the Midwest technical centers of its competitors-Toyota in Ann Arbor, Nissan in Farmington Hills, MI, and Honda in Marysville, OH.

Because of exclusive dynamometors in the new labs and personnel growth from among domestic automakers as well as foreign-owned R&D facilities, Hyundai Motor has ‘nailed’ a target of a corporate EPA fuel use average of 40 MPG, versus 30 MPG now seen as doable by the Detroit 3 and VW.

The Hyundai/Kia tech center, says Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, now is seeking 40 or more tech experts to shore up its Ypsilanti staff. “Our present team has enabled us to average 34.5 miles per gallon-and we see 40 MPG as achievable in highway driving with growth in subcompact and econo-engine cars-plus a single hybrid engine and expanded sales of restyled Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio models, our entry-level twins.”

Hyundai’s and Kia’s surge in global sales underscores the reality of reaching the federally-mandated fleet MPG goal of 54.5 MPG by 2025, according to Krafcik. To say the least, the Detroit 3 are bitterly opposed to the 54.5 MPG mandate. “From a perspective of providing resale values and consumer econocar savings,” says Krafcik, “we feel totally confident about reaching sales goals going forward in the U.S. and Canada.”

“60 percent of our cars sold in the U.S. now are built in the U.S.,” he adds, “and the Alabama-built Santa Fes and Georgia-built Sorentos excel in initial-quality rankings. We have no hangups about making it to the 54.5 goal post.”

Hyundai’s new-car sales have topped the 60,000 mark in U.S. monthly results this year, aided by third shifts at the two U.S. plants and growing demand for the upstyled, exported Kia Sportage SUV and jazzy Hyundai Veloster.  We’re literally selling new cars right off the trucks,” says Krafcik. Among ‘hot sellers’ in the Hyundai/Kia lineups are the stylish Kia Sorento and Hyundai Sonata sedans, each with fuel ranges of 300 miles.

But Krafcik admits to high hopes for the luxury Equus and Genesis sedans which rival Audi, BMW, Lexus and Infiniti in their appeal to ‘trendy’ high-performance minded consumers.