Last month I had the amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually drive a brand new car off the assembly line and take it on a road trip home. I mean, really, how many people can say that they’ve driven a Hyundai Elantra Eco right off the line?! I’m still reeling at how amazing this experience was and I’m excited to give you a behind-the-scenes look today at just how it all happened!
When I received the invitation to join Hyundai for the Elantra Eco Road Trip challenge, I was shocked that I would be traveling to Montgomery, Alabama. I was under the impression, obviously the very naive impression, that Hyundai cars were imported to the US. To find out that there was an extensive automotive plant just a few hours South of Tennessee was exciting to me and I couldn’t wait to visit! The real fun twist of the trip was that we would only be taking a one-way flight to Montgomery because after touring the Hyundai Manufacturing Plant, we would be driving a brand new, not even on the lot yet, 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco on a road trip home.
One of the greatest parts of this trip was the fact that I was able to bring my husband along. He’s never been able to attend a press trip with me before so it was so nice to get to include him. Plus, as an Engineer, he was completely ecstatic about touring an automotive plant. After arriving in Montgomery, we did a bit of sightseeing. The city is really gorgeous and looks like it has just went under a facelift to make it modern, yet in touch with it’s history. We took a walk around the Riverfront and Union Station.
This is definitely a city where I would love to return to explore even more and to have a bit more of that amazing BBQ and food from Dreamland BBQ!
While in Montgomery, we found out just how much impact the Hyundai Manufacturing Plant has had on the surrounding area since it was built in 2005. With over 3,000 in-house employees, the economic stimulation that the plant provides the Montgomery area is in the billions – 4.5 billion actually.
There were 3 main things that I noticed about this plant. First, I’ve never been in an automotive manufacturing plant so I have nothing to compare it too, but the cleanliness of this plant was utterly amazing. It was as clean and organized as the food manufacturing and personal care product plants that I’ve toured. It really seemed spotless, which is quite a statement when you might picture “oil and grease” like I did before the tour. The second was definitely comfort. The organization and layout of this plant was not an accident. You can tell that each and every thing has been well thought out and placed accordingly. The cars, as they travel along the assembly line, raise up and down depending on what the employee is doing to the car at that particular area of the line. The climate was a comfortable 73 degrees and continues that way even in the Southern heat of Summer, I was told.
Lastly, the aspect of the Hyundai plant that stood out the most to me was… the team members. Not only did all the team members look professional in their Hyundai clothing, but time after time, in between tasks, they would turn around and wave at our tour group. They would wave and smile and looked genuinely happy to be doing the job they were doing. Hyundai seemed incredibly proud of the fact that their employees are happy doing their jobs. In addition to the comfort of the environment, the company provides an on-site gym, two cafeterias, and rotational jobs throughout the day. That means that the employee isn’t doing the same thing on the line every single minute of their shift – they switch to another area of the line 4 times a day, which not only keeps them more interested in their work, but also prevents work fatigue or injuries of doing the same job over and over.
If you’ve never been inside an automotive manufacturing plant, you’ll want to take a quick look at this video that I created to show a few different areas of the plant. It’s really such an amazing process to see a car being built from sheets of metal to the final process of starting the car for the first time and driving across those bumps to “wake up the shocks”.
Stay tuned as I’ll be sharing more about the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco in the next few days, including a few of our stops on our family road trip!