Hyundai, Kia to shut down plants as Irma approaches

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UPDATED: 9/11/17 3:49 pm ET – adds storm moving north

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. said on Monday they would temporarily shut down plants in the South to avoid potential damage from Irma, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

The shutdown comes at a time Hyundai’s U.S. sales have fallen more than the market average, and after it recently announced plans to expand its crossover lineup and launch a pickup in the market in an attempt to reverse the slide.

In a statement, Hyundai Motor said it would suspend operation of its Alabama plant for two days — between Monday and Wednesday — while Kia Motors will stop operation of its Georgia plant for one day — between Monday and Tuesday.

The suspension is expected to result in lost production of about 3,000 vehicles for both, the Yonhap news agency earlier said on Monday, citing a Hyundai group spokesman. A Hyundai spokeswoman declined to comment on the number.

Irma took aim at heavily populated areas of central Florida on Monday as it carved a path of destruction through the state with high winds and storm surges that left millions without power, ripped roofs off homes and flooded city streets. The storm continued to makes its way into Georgia and the Carolinas on Monday afternoon. 

Hyundai’s U.S. sales are down nearly 11 percent this year through July 31, worse than the overall 2.9 percent decline in U.S. car and light truck sales.

Sales of the Sonata, once a pillar of Hyundai’s U.S. franchise, have fallen 30 percent through the first seven months of 2017. In contrast, sales of Hyundai’s current SUV lineup are up 11 percent for the first seven months of this year.

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