Hyundai-Alabama Plant

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Hyundai's new plant opening is the latest sign that the Mercedes-Benz decision to locate in Alabama a decade ago turned the state, like much of the south, into a new automotive frontier.

Hyundai will officially open a two million-square-foot plant that's expected to employ 2,000. It’s the Korean auto company's first assembly line in the United States.

In the following years, Honda put a vehicle and engine manufacturing plant in Talladega County and expanded its workforce to 4,400, and Toyota bolstered its Huntsville engine factory to 800 workers. Mercedes recently celebrated an expansion that increased its work force to 4,000.

Alabama's success in luring automakers is reflected throughout southern states, some 25 domestic and foreign-based plants have popped up in the region from Texas through Kentucky in just as many years. Economic and automotive experts say plant properties are cheaper in the Southern states, as are their employees.

Hourly wages on the production line at the Hyundai plant in Montgomery range from $14.40 to $22 an hour, on par with the national average according to the United Auto Workers.