VIENNA – Production of Hyundai i20 hatchbacks officially is under way at the Hyundai Assan Otomotiv Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S. plant in Izmit, Turkey.

Serial production actually began in April at the joint venture, owned 70% by Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. and 30% by Kibar Holding A.S., but Friday’s Job One ceremony formally marked the culmination of the $75 million project announced last September to add i20 output in Turkey.

Hyundai transferred production of the 5-door version of the i20 from Hyundai Motor India Ltd., which will continue to build the right-hand-drive version of the car. Hyundai India also produces the 3-door i20.

“We can go up to 26 vehicles per hour,” Hyundai Assan CEO Ali Kibar told Ward’s in an earlier interview. “This means 100,000 vehicles a year with two shifts and some overtime.”

Kibar says the plant should produce 80,000 i20s annually, including 70,000 for export. This year, output is expected to reach 40,000 units.

Hyundai Assan has increased the number of employees from 1,700 to up to 2,300 as a result of the i20 project.

Automation also was added, Kibar says, as was local content.

“Some additional Korean suppliers invested in Turkey and some of them have set up their new facilities within 10 to 15 km (6-9 miles) of the car plant,” he says.

Local content of the Hyundai Matrix MPV, a model Hyundai Assan phased out in April, was 55%-60%, and localization “will be slightly higher in the case of the i20,” Kibar says.

While the Matrix has been phased out, the Turkish plant will continue to produce the Accent sedan as its second car. “There is a strong demand for the model on the domestic market so we will go on making it for several years,” Kibar says.

The Accent will be adapted to Euro 5 emissions standards Turkey will introduce early next year.

Hyundai Assan manufactured 48,652 cars last year, down 40.4% from 2008. It produced 25,702 between January and May this year, up 35.1% from like-2009.

In addition to car assembly, Kibar Holding is involved parts production via subsidiary Assan Hanil Otomotiv Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S., a joint venture with the South Korean supplier Hanil E-Hwa Co. Ltd.

The JV makes seats for Hyundai vehicles, as well as Ford Motor Co.’s Transit Connect van, built at Ford Otomotiv Sanayi A.S. in Turkey. It also produces several other parts.