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Hyundai opens its $51.4M lab to enhance safety, conduct testing

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Hyundai has opened its $51 million Safety Test and Investigation Laboratory (STIL) in Michigan, which it says will help enhance the safety of its vehicles.

The OEM’s new facility, touted as the first of its kind in North America, was designed to help Hyundai identify and replicate field issues, expedite investigations, and conduct regular safety testing.

The sprawling compound encompasses:

    • High crash investigations lab;
    • High-voltage battery lab;
    • Forensics lab;
    • 400-meter track; and
    • Vehicle dynamics area skid pad.

“The STIL differentiates itself from other automotive OEM laboratories through its dedicated purpose of investigating real-world crashes and field issues, typically done by outside vendors,” said Brian Latouf, Hyundai’s global chief safety officer. “Having such a capable and expansive safety and investigations laboratory in-house will allow Hyundai to take a more proactive approach in determining safety issues and trends early on.”

The facility will employ 160 people and is expected to be fully operational by mid-October.

Hyundai’s new safety lab is pictured in Superior Township, Michigan.

As Repairer Driven News previously reported, Hyundai agreed to build the lab to comply with a 2020 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) consent order.

It did so after NHTSA determined that Hyundai and Kia had moved too slowly in recalling more than 1.6 million vehicles equipped with engines that were prone to seizing. NHTSA also faulted Hyundai for inaccurately reporting certain information about the recalls to the agency.

The order required Hyundai to “build and develop a fully-functioning United States-based outdoor test laboratory and vehicle tear down facilities. The test laboratory will focus on safety field issues, vehicle inspections, and defect investigations.”

The consent order also required the OEM to invest in “advanced data analytics capabilities” to improve its ability to detect and study safety-related problems with its vehicles.

In all, Hyundai and Kia were ordered to pay combined penalties of $210 million. The OEM noted that its investment in the lab was more than twice that required under the consent order.

Hyundai said in a press release that it “recognized the benefits of having a best-in-class crash facility” and added that it doubled the $25 million investment in the facility required by NHTSA.

“Hyundai recognized the importance of expanding its hands-on field safety evaluation and investigation processes to help ensure the safety of our customers,” said José Muñoz, president and chief executive of Hyundai and Genesis Motor North America. “We strive to be a leader in automotive safety.”

David Harkey, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) president, said Hyundai’s commitment to safety has been reflected in IIHS’ evaluation of vehicle crashworthiness, crash avoidance, and mitigation.

“Like the impressive number of Hyundai Motor Group’s Top Safety Picks, the opening of this facility demonstrates the company’s deep commitment to creating a safe transportation system and the vision of a world where mobility does not come at the expense of people’s lives,” Harkey said.

A groundbreaking ceremony held Tuesday to celebrate the facility’s impending opening was attended by Hyundai executives, politicians, and other automotive stakeholders.


Featured image: georgeclerk/iStock

Secondary image courtesy of Hyundai

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