Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. narrows its search for a North American plant site down to Montgomery, AL, and Glendale, KY. The final site, where Hyundai most likely will build a new midsize SUV, will be selected this spring, Hyundai officials say.

Original estimates said Hyundai would make a final decision in the year's first quarter. South Korea's No.1 auto maker has been studying locations for its first U.S. plant for two years and has been involved in nearly a year of detailed analysis, officials say. Potential sites in Mississippi and Ohio have been eliminated in the latest round of negotiations, which has involved site visits by top company officials including President and CEO Kim Dong-Jin, as well as trips by state officials to South Korea.

Both the Alabama and Kentucky locations offer a high-quality physical site with good geological characteristics, Hyundai says, plus a mature yet growing automotive industry.

Mercedes-Benz and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. have established manufacturing facilities in Alabama, while Toyota Motor Corp.'s largest U.S. assembly plant is located in Georgetown, KY. Both sites are located near established automotive supplier networks.

Although all major Japanese and European OEMs have U.S. plants — except for Volkswagen AG, which builds cars in Mexico — none of South Korea's three global auto makers do. Hyundai once built vehicles in Bromont, Quebec, in a now-failed venture.