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Hyundai Motor extends global plant shutdowns

Tire manufacturers suspend factory operations as vehicle exports plummet

Employees are seen working at Hyundai Motor Group’s Hyundai Assan Otomotive Sanayi plant in Istabul, Turkey. (Hyundai Motor Group)
Employees are seen working at Hyundai Motor Group’s Hyundai Assan Otomotive Sanayi plant in Istabul, Turkey. (Hyundai Motor Group)

The dampened economic situation is forcing South Korea’s top automaker Hyundai Motor Group to shut down facilities globally following weakened exports and restrictive regulations in major markets, according to industry sources Tuesday. 

The business disruption in the auto industry is also hitting tire manufacturers, with major Korean companies suspending overseas plant operations.

Hyundai said Tuesday that it has decided to extend the shutdown of its manufacturing plant in Turkey to Sunday over the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Previously, Hyundai Motor had planned to close the Turkish plant Hyundai Assan Otomotive Sanayi from March 27 to April 12. 

Earlier, it delayed reopening its Alabama plant in the US from April 10 to May 1, suspending operations for 45 days. 

Its sister company Kia Motors has also shut down its Georgia plant in the US, extended to April 24 -- it was scheduled to reopen on April 10.

The automaker said it has also decided to extend the factory shutdown in San Paulo in Brazil and Monterrey in Mexico from April 9-24. 

The company added that it remains unclear when its plants in Chennai and Anantapur in India will reopen. It had planned to start operations from Wednesday. 

Following reduced consumer sentiment over the economic downturn due to COVID-19 globally, sales of automobiles in the global market have also plummeted, failing to overcome a fiscal cliff, according to market analysts. 

This has also led to local companies in related businesses including auto parts makers and tire manufacturers to cease operations of their manufacturing plants. 

Korea’s three major tire manufacturers Hankook Tire, Kumho Tire and Nexen Tire said they have all suspended operations of overseas plants in April.

A Kumho Tire official said that the company decided to halt operations to control inventories after major carmakers like Hyundai and Kia suspended operations.

Hyundai Steel, which manufactures steel plates for cars, said it has reduced its monthly production goal to 70 percent of the previous target, also cutting back operations at its Dangjin plant. 

By Kim Da-sol (