Hyundai Motor Co. will seek to build a factory in Mexico once the company’s domestic auto sales rise, joining affiliate Kia Motors Corp. in Latin America’s top vehicle-producing market.

“Hyundai wants to turn Mexico into a very important base for its global production,” Pedro Albarran, managing director for Hyundai Motor de Mexico, said Tuesday in an interview in his Mexico City office. “I’m sure that over the years we’ll see production of Hyundai products in Mexico.”

South Korea’s biggest automaker probably will wait until annual domestic sales exceed 50,000 before opening a plant, Albarran said. Seoul-based Hyundai began Mexico sales in 2014 with 12,000 vehicles and projects topping 50,000 by 2018. Albarran didn’t rule out an announcement before then.
A local assembly line would add Hyundai to the roster of global car brands setting up shop in Mexico. Kia’s announcement last year followed pledges by BMW AG for a new factory and Daimler AG and Nissan Motor Co. for a joint operation. Nissan, Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. have all begun making autos in Mexico since November 2013.

Toyota Motor Corp. also is poised to open its first passenger-car factory as the automaker ends a freeze on new assembly plants, two people with direct knowledge of the plan said. The Toyota City, Japan-based company scheduled an announcement Wednesday in Mexico City without giving a reason.

Albarran said the state of Nuevo Leon would be a good location for Hyundai after Kia announced last year its first Mexico factory there for more than $1 billion. He said a Mexico factory probably would build more than 100,000 vehicles a year, including subcompact models popular in Mexico.
Kia’s decision to produce in Mexico has made the country more attractive for Hyundai by attracting suppliers, Albarran said.

“Hyundai has very important plans for Mexico,” Albarran said.