Trams, robotics and safety – oh my! A look at Hyundai safety.
Touring the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Montgomery is a bit like being thrown inside a Sci-Fi movie. Trams transport visitors, equipped with eye protection and headsets, inside the plant, following carefully painted lines on the gray concrete floor.
One of the first stops is to the Hyundai Stamping Plant. In the factory, cranes lift sheets of steel weighing between 20,000 to 40,000 pounds onto blanking machines to cut rectangular pieces that are thinner than a dime. These pieces are moved automatically to the stamping presses. These presses transform the pieces into the shapes that will be welded together by over 280 robots to make the frame of the Hyundai’s mid-size Sonata and Elantra sedans. The robots springing into action in perfect harmony is a sight to see.
Robots vs. Humans?
You may wonder why robotics have replaced human workers for this step, and Hyundai will tell you that it is in part for the protection of its workers. The robots are able to perform high-risk jobs, reducing injury to their human counterparts.
Throughout the plant, Team Members and automatons interact to produce award winning vehicles packed with safety features of their own. Robots aren’t the only measures that Hyundai employs to prevent and reduce injury.
Several safety procedures are in place for employees.
- Workers are prohibited from using cell phones during their shift
- They switch jobs at regular intervals, preventing boredom which leads to distraction and accidents.
- To prevent back strains, advanced technologies such as automatically adjusting the height of vehicles on the assembly line are used.
Together, these practices have made Hyundai one of the safest automotive manufacturing facilities in the United States, but their regard for safety doesn’t stop on the assembly floor. Hyundai is committed to constantly improving safety features in their vehicles as well.
Want to experience this yourself? The Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant in Montgomery offers free public tours.
Let’s talk about the 2015 Hyundai Sonata
At the end of the factory tour, I was able to drive a brand spanking new 2015 Hyundai Sonata off the assembly line for a road trip through the Alabama countryside. I spent the afternoon driving the Sonata to learn how it handled in city traffic of Montgomery and along the curvy, back roads to Sylacauga- a distance of roughly 60 miles.
The new 2015 Hyundai Sonata comes with seven standard airbags, which include a driver’s knee airbag, and safety features such as Forward Collision Alert, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Departure Warning System.
As someone who is always nervous when backing out of a parking spot in a busy lot, I appreciate the Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Not only do you have a rear camera to help you see what’s directly behind you, now you’ll also be alerted if something is approaching you from either side as well. Once upon a time this could have saved me the frustration of getting T-boned in the Dollar General parking lot.
Safety without sacrificing comfort
The Hyundai’s safety features are important, but the feel and drive of the vehicle haven’t been overlooked. I test drove the Sonata through the twisting Alabama countryside and was decidedly impressed. The new Sonata is smooth, quiet and comfortable with plenty of legroom and headroom- something my over six foot tall teens would fit in comfortably.
I’m not sure which impressed me more- the 2015 Hyundai Sonata test drive or the tour of the Hyundai plant. As far as the look and feel of the vehicle, you’ll have to take my word for it. Or test drive your own. Take your pick.
What I Loved
- The sporty look of the Hyundai Sonata- especially the Sport 2.0T
- The car handles perfectly around the curves on the back roads in Alabama
- Space! The Sonata offers the most space of cars in its class
- Safety features like Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Forward Collision Warning keep me focused
- Hands-free smart trunk. No more juggling all your luggage or groceries while you try to unlock the trunk. When the Proximity Key is directly behind the vehicle for 3 seconds, the trunk will open for you. It’s like magic.
- I didn’t use it on the road trip, but I love the automatic hi-beam assist that automatically dims your lights at night when approached by another vehicle.
- Gas mileage, 37 mpg on the highway
What you need to know
- Base Price for the 2015 Sonata SE starts at $21,150
- Sonata earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick + for 2014
- Features Advanced Dual-side Airbags with Occupant Classification System plus driver’s knee airbag
- New Vehicle Limited Warranty- 5 years/60,000 miles
- Powertrain Warranty- 10 years/100,000 miles
- 24/7 Roadside Assistance 5 years/unlimited miles
Disclosure: The Sonata and the factory tour were provided to us by Hyundai for this review; the opinions expressed are all our own.