South Korea: Hyundai Motor Co. Chairman, Chung Mong-koo left for India on 21 February. The company said it is his first trip abroad since being handed a prison term earlier this month.
Chung plans to check progress at Hyundai’s second Indian plant, which is slated to start operating in the third quarter of this year in the city of Chennai, said Oles Gadacz, Hyundai’s director of global public relations.
The Seoul District Court convicted Chung on 5 February for illegally raising a 103.4 billion won (Rs487 crore) slush fund from affiliates, as well as other wrong doing in one of South Korea’s most high-profile corruption scandals. Chung remains free and in charge of the world’s sixth-largest automaker.
Upon arrest last year, he was jailed for about two months before being released on bail. Gadacz said Chung is allowed to travel abroad under the terms of his bail, and does not require special court permission each time he does so.
Hyundai, which is expanding aggressively overseas, already has one factory in the southeastern city of Chennai, formerly called Madras. That factory began operating in 1998 and produces 300,000 vehicles annually, Gadacz said.
Among the five models produced, there are the Sonata and Elantra sedans and the Getz subcompact. The plant operates 24 hours a day for six days a week, Gadacz said, with one-third of production exported to 60 countries around the world.
The second factory will double Hyundai’s production capacity in India, he said. Hyundai plans to introduce a new small car to its Indian production when the factory comes on line, Gadacz said. During his visit, Chung also plans to check on Hyundai’s performance in the Indian market as well as encourage its employees, Gadacz said.
Hyundai opened its first U.S. factory last year, where it makes 300,000 vehicles a year, and has plans for one in the Czech Republic. Besides India and the United States, the company also has plants in China, where it produces 300,000 vehicles annually and Turkey, where it manufactures 100,000, Gadacz said. The automaker plans to double capacity in China sometime next year, he added. Hyundai shares rose 0.6% on 21 February to close at 73,000 won.