Five minutes with: Brian Latouf, Hyundai Motor North America

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The chief safety officer gives details on Hyundai’s vast new Safety Test and Investigation Laboratory complex, which is expected to open in autumn 2023

Why did Hyundai decide to establish this new facility and why in this region?
In partnership with Hyundai America Technical Center (HATCI) in Superior Township, Michigan, and Hyundai Motor America, the addition of a Safety Test and Investigation Laboratory (STIL) has been approved. The project will require a substantial building expansion at the HATCI Michigan facility and will enhance the existing facility and property, as well as available land to develop the new laboratory.

The test laboratory will focus on safety field issues, vehicle inspections and defect investigations. The STIL will enable Hyundai to analyze field data, understand the root cause of issues and quickly take action to ensure vehicle safety in a variety of weather and climate changes, summer through winter, for vehicle evaluations. The collaboration builds further synergies between HMA/NASO, HATCI R&D and Korea R&D.

How did you spec the facilities and what logistical challenges do you face in the construction?
We use our North American Safety Office evaluation needs and commitment to safety to infuse and enforce the highest standards of motor vehicle safety throughout the organization. The facility specs were based on having the capability to analyze safety field issues for the majority of vehicle safety hazards.

The STIL will be located at a strategic point that will provide the ability to attract experienced automotive engineering talent and test facilities in Michigan. Additionally, the facility will build a synergy between the North America Safety Office and the existing HATCI R&D facility.

What equipment will be available and which suppliers are you working with?
Each laboratory/facility inside the STIL will have the necessary equipment to perform root cause analysis for safety/quality field failures and to evaluate potential field remedies. It will also encompass a vehicle dynamics area (track) where ADAS field issues analysis will be performed, as well as an ADAS laboratory. Currently one of the best architect firms, IBI, which has experience is this type of building, is developing the STIL design.

How many team members will be based at the facility?
The facility has the capacity for 150 jobs. The positions are not necessarily ‘new’; the option to repurpose existing qualified safety and test engineers exists as well as the potential for new hires.

How will it be sustainable?
We work closely with all regulatory and environmental agencies to adhere to a sustainable and environmentally appropriate facility and site.

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Rachel's career in journalism has seen her write for various titles at UKi Media & Events within automotive, tire and marine. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the groundbreaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of transportation.

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