The Rise and Fall of Hyundai’s Assembly Plant in Chongqing

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On the outskirts of Chongqing, western China’s largest city, stands a stark reminder of the country’s car industry turmoil. The massive complex, once bustling with activity, now sits abandoned, a shadow of its former self.

The Abandoned Hyundai Complex

The gray buildings that make up the former Hyundai assembly plant and engine factory cover nearly a square mile. What was once a joint venture between a Chinese company and Hyundai now stands empty, its crimson loading docks closed. The facility, equipped with state-of-the-art robotics and machinery, opened in 2017 to produce gasoline-powered cars. However, with the shift towards electric vehicles, the complex was sold by Hyundai last year for a fraction of its original cost.

The Electric Vehicle Revolution in China

China currently has over 100 factories capable of producing close to 40 million internal combustion engine cars annually. However, sales of these traditional cars are plummeting as electric vehicles gain popularity. In China’s largest cities, sales of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid cars have exceeded those of gasoline-powered cars for the first time. This shift in consumer preference has left many gasoline-powered vehicle factories struggling to stay afloat.

Dozens of once-thriving factories are now operating at minimal capacity or have been forced to shut down completely. The Hyundai complex in Chongqing serves as a poignant example of this industry-wide transformation, with its empty halls and overgrown surroundings painting a picture of the changing automotive landscape in China.

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