An employee works Wednesday at the Theta engine plant at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.
The process to find and train the more than 200 employees for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing's expanded engine plant could begin as early as this summer.
Renovation work is well under way inside one of HMMA's two engine shops. Contractors last week were working on the foundation and floor of the building that formerly housed Hyundai's Lamba engine production.
The machines that made those engines are on their way out, making room for the $173 million capital investment project that will allow for the local production of the four-cylinder, 1.8 liter Nu engine, used in the Montgomery-made Elantra. Currently, all Elantra engines are imported from Korea.
"It is to bring that capacity here, instead of importing it," Hyundai spokesman Robert Burns said on a recent tour.
The engine plant expansion also will increase HMMA's capacity to produce its 2.4 liter Theta engines for the Montgomery-made Hyundai Sonata, as well as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorrento at the Kia Motor Manufacturing plant, which is Hyundai's sister company.
The Lambda engine, which is used in the all-wheel drive versions of the Santa Fe and Sorrento, will now be imported from Korea.
Employees who worked in the Lamba shop were transferred when it closed to the Theta shop, Burns said. No jobs were lost.
Renovations should be complete in the fall, and production will begin in the spring, Burns said. At that time, the Montgomery plant will be able to produce a total of about 600,000 engines each year. The facility can build just over 300,000 cars a year.
"We will continue to supply to the Kia plant," Burns said.
The 214 new positions will be filled through the Alabama Industrial Development Training system. Ed Castile, director of AIDT, said Thursday that the process of advertising the jobs and recruiting, screening and training the potential employees takes several months. It will probably start in mid- to late summer.
AIDT has a training center on Hyundai's grounds and helped with its initial hiring. Castile expects to draw employees from as far away as 75 miles.
"But the bulk of them will be from right here, nearby," he said.
Burns has previously said the entry-level jobs at Hyundai will pay about $16 an hour and offer benefits.
In addition to workforce training, the state is providing Hyundai with a $2.5 million economic development grant, tax abatements and income tax capital credit for the expansion. The city and county together offered $750,000. Montgomery County Commission Vice Chairman Reed Ingram said the county put up 40 percent of the $750,000 and that it's a very good investment. He said in the past that Hyundai's job estimates have been low. He's hoping the expansion could actually mean 300-plus jobs.
"We are real excited and looking forward to this expansion," Ingram said.
HMMA began production of the 2012 Sonata last week.