The Hyundai Motor Group says it plans to lift U.S. investment by 50 percent in the next five years to $3.1 billion and may build a new U.S. plant. That makes it the latest in a line of auto makers announcing new spending under President-elect Donald Trump's threat to tax imports, as Reuters' Hyunjoo Jin reports.
A bold step for Hyundai at a make-or-break time for its business in America. The South Korean carmaker on Tuesday announcing plans to boost U.S. investment by 50 percent, or more than 3 billion dollars. The move brings Hyundai into the ranks alongside Toyota, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, all of which have announced plans to ratchet up U.S. investment in the past month. And that's no coincidence. As Reuters' Hyunjoo Jin reports, for the auto world it's all eyes on Inauguration Day. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS COMPANY NEWS REPORTER, HYUNJOO JIN, SAYING: "Hyundai's announcement is a preemptive strike against Trump's tweets. As you know, Trump tweeted recently slamming not only U.S. automakers but foreign automakers for making cars in Mexico and importing them to the United States. And Trump threatened to slap a big tax on imported car from Mexico so many analysts expected Hyundai Motor may be the next target of criticism from Trump." Hyundai says it plans to plow cash into its U.S. factories over the next five years, and it may even build another one. It's also touting R&D projects from self-driving cars to artificial intelligence. The head of the company tells Reuters it's not all to please the President-elect. But that couldn't hurt. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS COMPANY NEWS REPORTER, HYUNJOO JIN, SAYING: "Hyundai Motor President Chung Jin-haeng denied that the investment was driven by Trump's pressure to build cars in the United States instead of Mexico. But what he said is that Hyundai hopes car demand would rise under the Trump administration which plans to create more jobs and boost domestic demand." Hyundai Group also owns Kia, which runs a factory in Georgia, but it also recently kicked off production at its first plant in Mexico, and plans to expand it. Hyundai's president says he's been agonizing over what to do now with that facility, now that a tax or a tweet could make it a very costly decision.