SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's largest carmaker, said Tuesday that its plant in Turkey rolled off its 1 millionth vehicle, marking a milestone in the company's presence in the country and Europe.
The plant located in the port city of Izmit, which has the capacity to produce 200,000 cars per year, has been in operation since 1997, with vehicles such as the i10 and i20 supermini cars currently being made there.
Both cars are so-called strategic cars introduced by Hyundai Motor for the European market, whose consumers favor small economical vehicles with small-displacement powertrains.
Production was gradually increased from 60,000 to 100,000 in 2007, with the total being doubled last year after the carmaker injected US$609 million to expand the plant's capacity to meet growing demand. The expansion helped create 2,500 new jobs that benefited the regional economy.
"With the mass-production of the second generation i10 last year, Turkey has become key to the company's expansion into Europe," the carmaker said.
It said the plant is currently being run 24 hours a day on three eight-hour shifts that allowed 98,290 vehicles to be produced in the first half. Of the total, 54,175 were the popular i10 cars.
Hyundai added that its Turkey operation sold 88,040 cars to 30 countries in Europe and other nearby countries in the January-June period. This is equal to 90 percent of all cars produced.
Along with Hyundai's Czech Republic plant that can produce some 300,000 cars per year, the South Korean carmaker has the capacity to make half a million cars on the continent. Its smaller affiliate, Kia Motors Corp., has a plant in Slovakia that can make 300,000 cars.
Hyundai said it held a ceremony at the plant to celebrate the production of the 1 millionth car, with the i10 vehicle to be shipped to Germany.
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