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Over 80% of auto plants back in operation on eased virus restrictions

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

More than 80 percent of vehicle plants in 13 major car-manufacturing countries resumed limited operations as of mid-May as new coronavirus restrictions were eased, an auto industry association said Monday.

Vehicle plants in the United States and 12 other major car-manufacturing countries began to restart production, though not in full operation, since mid-April, and more lines are expected to resume operations this month.

"It will take some time for the auto plants to return to full operations and pre-coronavirus production levels as consumers opt to spend less amid the COVID-19 pandemic," the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) said in a statement.

On May 19, the proportion of auto plants that were back in operation jumped to 84 percent, or 232 plants out of the countries' combined 278 plants, from 29 percent a month earlier on April 16, the statement said.

Auto plants in South Korea, Japan, China and other East Asian countries were in operation in mid-April, plants in European countries like Germany, France, and Spain resumed operations in late April, and plants in the United States and India restarted production in early May, it said.

Plants in Latin American countries like Mexico and Brazil resumed operations in mid-May, driving up the proportion of operating car plants in the 13 nations that include South Korea, the US, China, Japan, and Germany, the statement said.

In South Korea, all of Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp.'s  overseas plants were in operation at a reduced level from last week, except for Kia Motors' Mexico plant.

Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world's fifth-biggest carmaker by sales, suspended most of their overseas production facilities from March. The suspension affected their vehicle sales, particularly in the past two months.

From January to April, Hyundai and Kia sold a combined 1,845,406 vehicles, down 19 percent from 2,268,183 units in the same period of last year. 

Hyundai has 10 overseas plants -- four in China and one each in the United States, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Russia, India and Brazil -- and seven domestic ones -- five in Ulsan, one in Asan and one in Jeonju. Their combined capacity reaches 5.5 million vehicles.

Kia has seven overseas factories -- three in China and one each in the US, Slovakia, Mexico and India -- and eight local ones -- two in Gwangmyeong, three in Hwaseong and three in Gwangju. Their overall capacity is 3.84 million units. (Yonhap)
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