When was the last time you saw in person how a roll of sheet metal turned into a brand new car? For me, it was only a 1-1/2 weeks ago! I was invited to the media launch of a new car (my first one) and to tour the plant. It was such a thrilling experience to meet the new 2015 Sonata by Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama and to see how it’s made from start to finish at the local manufacturing plant.
Thanks to Hyundai USA for covering all travel and lodging costs associated with this event. All opinions are my own.
Montgomery, Alabama and the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Media Launch
Whoo-ie – Alabama is crazy hot and sticky humid! When I stepped out of the air-conditioned car, my glasses immediately fogged up. After some flight delays, I arrived at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery, Alabama. You could tell the hotel was glad to host this media event.
Friday morning we all headed to breakfast, got paired up, and jumped on the bus to Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA). The new 2015 Hyundai Sonata has a whole slew of bells and whistles and comes at varying price points and trim packages to meet each consumer’s needs.
Seeing the 2015 Sonata From Start to Finish
Our tram tour of the plant started in the stamp and welding shop. The motto for the plant was clearly hung for all to see, “the Hyundai way is the Quality way.” You’ll be happy to know that plant tours are open to the public to visitors are encouraged to come see this in person, especially school groups.
Here, monstrous rolls of metal (called blanks and are thinner than a dime) were formed into parts making up the car body using 5400 tons of pressure. These were them welded and sent off to the paint shop. We didn’t get to tour the paint shop as we could bring in dusties and lints that would damage the paint finish.
Next on our route was the general assembly area. This is where we go to see several of the Hyundai employees happily working away. I say “happily” as they all greeted us with smiles, waves, and even some poses. It was really intriguing to hear how important good working conditions are to Hyundai. Stations are situated in a way that puts less physical burden on the employees, cell phone use is restricted to break times for safety (breaks are every 2 hours), and jobs are rotated to keep things fresh.
Doors are removed for easy access and to prevent damage to the car or the workers. All the cars moves on a huge conveyer belt as they go from station to station. Robotic trays follow guides along the floor to bring audio and other parts to assembly workers so they know exactly which components go where.
Robotic arms work along with the employees to put the “guts” into the car. Basically, the robots do all the heavy lifting while the workers use their skill to connect everything and finish the job. Engines are totally assembled by hand though. It’s a seamless partnership that completes about 1000 cars per day and over 300,000 per year. That’s a lot of Hyundai Elantras and Hyundai Sonatas!
From Plant to Highway
From there, each pair drove a 2015 Hyundai Sonata right off the assembly line and headed to our media drive course. What a thrill! I was still overwhelmed and let my partner do the honors. Next time I’m taking the wheel first though 🙂
So how did our drive go? You’ll have to read my next post about the drive with the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T and the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport.